Engineering Students Receive FAA Honor, Earn Aviation Research Opportunity

Students in the College of Engineering and Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering (CCEE) have taken top honors for work in aviation and big data.

This spring, the Federal Aviation Administration and Partnership to Enhance General Aviation Safety, Accessibility and Sustainability (PEGASAS) chose Ikkyun Song as a Centers of Excellence Fellow. Song is a CCEE Department doctoral student in structural engineering. As a fellowship recipient, he will complete research involving big data for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) throughout the summer.

“In the FAA Center, there is a huge amount of data,” Song said, describing his work at the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. “There are two mentors here who have more than 20 years experience in this field and two mentors at ISU,” Song continued, describing his Iowa State mentors, CCEE Department faculty Dr. Halil Ceylan and Dr. In-Ho Cho. “I hope I will be able to make excellent results under their advice and help and experience much about work at [this] federal department.”

Dr. Cho is Song’s major professor. By looking at large amounts of data, Cho says researchers like Song can help the FAA find hidden relationships and hidden complications.

“We look at the data [to] tell us the problem,” Cho said. “It’s quite a different approach.”

Hao Guo also received a Centers of Excellence Fellowship. Guo is a doctoral student in Aerospace Engineering and does research with the Wind Energy Science, Engineering, and Policy (WESEP) program at ISU. He, too, is working at the William J. Hughes Technical Center. Right now, Guo is creating a database that could help researchers find new ways to reduce ice build-up on aircraft.

“Droplets, when impinged onto the wings of an airplane, will freeze and alter the geometry of the airfoil thus leading to unwanted changes to the aerodynamic performance of the wing,” Guo said, explaining the behavior of the supercooled droplets on which he is gathering research. “Having a database that keeps track of all the previous icing research campaigns would help the FAA tremendously when setting guidelines for aircraft safety during the winter.”

Dr. Halil Ceylan is the ISU PEGASAS Site Director. PEGASAS partners with the FAA on a number of aviation projects. Ceylan says understanding the needs of the FAA helps faculty work with and prepare students for success.

“We contacted the FAA managers and asked, ‘Hey, if you want to get a good, talented skilled engineer, what would you be interested in?” Ceylan said. “What topics do you have in mind?”

Ceylan described how only eight students are chosen annually for the fellowship.

“Now, the FAA is going to benefit from these students’ expertise,” Ceylan said.

Song and Guo started their fellowships May 24 and will continue until the end of July.