Friday, December 17, 2010

Bashevkin and Deisley Win 2010-2011 Doris M. and Norman T. Halpin Prize for Interdisciplinary Senior Capstone Projects

Thanks to the generosity of Doris M. and Norman T. Halpin, the Brown University School of Engineering Executive Committee provides research awards for exceptional undergraduates. Projects are awarded based on how well they demonstrate the power of interdisciplinary thought in engineering science and design. This year's winners of the Halpin Prize are Eli Bashivkin '11 and Daniel Deisley '11.

Excerpts from Eli's Halpin award nomination:
Eli has been interested in spaceflight since he was young, and has long know he has wanted to enter the aerospace engineering industry. Eli chose to attend Brown despite the lack of an aerospace program to take advantage of the open curriculum to design for himself a course of study leading to a broader technical background, to address the issues of technology in society, and to supplement his classroom education with team work and independent study projects. Professor Rick Fleeter is supervising his work on an innovative desktop scale hybrid rocket motor safe enough for development and use by students in an academic lab environment.

Eli has spent his entire time at Brown as a member of Brown's Formula SAE Design Team, a large interdisciplinary effort that combines engineering, production, and business to design and build a racecar from scratch each year. Eli has worked extensively on all aspects of this process, manufacturing components, contacting and working with sponsors, managing small teams, designed the brake, drivetrain, and powertrain subsystems of the vehicle.

Eli has defined an independent study project for this year to develop a low thrust, paraffin-fueled, hybrid rocket motor. Hybrid rocket motors are exceptionally simpler, and in many cases safer, than traditional liquid rocket engines, and thus can be used to reduce costs and put missions requiring propulsion in the hands of students and academic experimentalists. Paraffin has recently been recognized as an exceptional fuel for these applications. Tests have been done on large (50,000 Newton thrust) paraffin hybrid rocket engines used for launch into space, but little work has been conducted on how small these motors can be made to work. Eli's designs are at the 1 Newton level and below, with rocket motor diameter of a centimeter or two.

Excerpts from Daniel's Halpin award nomination:
Daniel's thesis on carbon nanotube EMI shielding is one that addresses issues emerging from the intersection between the fields of electrical engineering, material science, physics of phase transitions, and polymer chemistry. In his research, he will team up with members of the Laboratory of Emerging Technology to explore a novel carbon nanotube - polymer composite and its multifunctions, with his focus placed on its effectiveness and optimization for EMI (electromagnetic interference) shielding. The thesis will experimentally assess the incorporation of carbon nanotube networks into phase-changing polymer for EM shielding, leading to an optimized EMI shielding material that is ultra-thin, lightweight, corrosion and scratch resistant, flexible, and scalable. If successful, his work has the potential to pave the way for applications of the EMI-shielding composite in passport, bank card, and personnel ID card protection, as well as RFID enabled supply-chain management systems.