ECE grad students earn state aerospace research fellowships

Posted: July 29, 2020

Several graduate students and faculty from The Ohio State University College of Engineering earned 2020 Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) fellowship awards to support their research endeavors.

The program—officially known as the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)/Dayton Area Graduate Studies Institute (DAGSI) Ohio Student-Faculty Research Fellowship—is funded primarily through DAGSI by the Ohio Board of Regents. It aims to support graduate science and engineering students and faculty who conduct research in areas targeted by the AFRL at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. 

Five projects from the College of Engineering will receive funding, and among those are two teams of electrical and computer engineering graduate students and faculty.



ECE student Phillip Van Hooser and Research Scientist Dale Smith of the ElectroScience Laboratory were included in the category of Sensors. They will collaborate on the project, “Reconfigurable Radio Frequency (RF) Technology for Adaptable Phased-Arrays and Cognitive Electronic Warfare (EW) Applications.”

The team said their goal is to develop a millimeter wave 5G frequency synthesizer that can be dynamically reconfigured to meet multiple needs in radio frequency (RF) systems. Reconfigurable RF technology is in high demand as it reduces the number of application-specific components needed to construct RF systems. The ability to use a single integrated transceiver for multiple aerospace and defense applications such as communications, radar, and electronic warfare drives down the cost, size, and power consumption of these systems.

Materials and Manufacturing


Electrical and computer engineering doctoral student Joseph McGlone and Professor Steven Ringel were selected for their proposal, “Basic Studies of Defects, Carrier Transport, and MBE Growth of Beta Gallium Oxide Materials and Devices.” In conjunction with the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate at AFRL, their project will focus on the advancement of a new semiconductor material known as ultra-wide bandgap gallium oxide. Gallium oxide is considered to be one of the most promising new electronic materials since it has the potential to enable a step-change improvement of at least two critical technologies: high voltage power electronics for future mobility and aerospace applications: and high frequency transistors for future advanced communication systems.

Materials science and engineering PhD student Patricia Loughney and Assistant Professor Vicky Doan-Nguyen will collaborate on the project, “Identification of Structure-Processing-Property Relationships for Designing New Functional Polymer-Derived Ceramics.” Their goal is to establish foundational knowledge for understanding the structure-property relations of functional polymer-derived ceramics. Using their expertise in materials synthesis as well as advanced structural characterization in synchrotron X-ray scattering and transmission electron microscopy, they will explore new colloidal chemistries and engineer controlled interfaces between nanostructured fillers with ceramic matrix. These new nanocomposites possess desirable mechanical properties and corrosion resistance, which are useful for aerospace applications.

For their project, “Gene Expression in Fungi Associated with Materials Degradation in Aircraft and Fuel Systems,” environmental engineering graduate student Nicole Renninger and Assistant Professor Karen Dannemiller aim to identify fungal genes associated with polymer degradation on aircraft under different relative humidity conditions. This information can inform solutions for design and preventive maintenance protocols to promote system integrity and increase lifespan. Material degradation on aircraft due to microbes is estimated to cost the Air Force more than $1 billion annually.

Mechanical engineering graduate student Mohamad Al Nashar and Assistant Professor Alok Sutradhar aim to improve the performance of integrated electromagnetic-mechanical designs in their project, “Topology Optimization of Coupled Mechanical and Electromagnetic Designs.” The design proposed by the project will lead to new performance and integration opportunities, including systems that are lighter, more compact and affordable. The focus of the work is topology-optimized electromagnetic designs, and creating convolutional neural network-based surrogate models for electromagnetic field distribution.