Thirteen engineering students from The University of Tennessee at Martin got a look at graduate school opportunities during a recent tour of research facilities at The UT Space Institute.
Rich Helgeson, Chair of Martin’s Engineering Department, and Associate Professor Robert A. (Bob) LeMaster, a 1983 graduate of UTSI, accompanied the students. LeMaster lived in Estill Springs while earning his Ph.D. at the Institute and working at Arnold Engineering Development Center.
Joining her former classmates on the tour was Ashley Owens, who after graduating at UT Martin in May, entered the Space Institute as a candidate for a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. She helped arrange the tour.
“I love this place,” Owens said. “I like that my professors have been here for a long time. I feel lucky sitting in their lectures.”
Professor Roy Schulz and Jim Goodman, manager of research labs, led the tour for the visitors who earlier had been to Arnold Engineering Development Center. K.C. Reddy, acting dean of academic affairs, also welcomed them.
The group visited the lab where a GE J85 afterburning turbojet engine is available for private industry and the U.S. Air Force to use as a test bed for exhaust gas emissions sensor development, afterburner research, and component life-cycle studies, among others. Schulz said such tests at UTSI are far less costly than in some other facilities.
At the Center for Laser Applications, Goodman showed examples surfaces of various metals that UTSI’s Laser Induced Surface Improvement (LISI) process had improved for increased wear resistance and reduced mechanical stresses. He also pointed out how lasers are used to “mark” various kinds of tools, including surgical instruments, for permanent identification.
While visiting UTSI’s large vacuum chamber in the Center for Laser Applications, where space propulsion thrusters and other space simulation studies are performed, Schulz told about the Institute’s continuing research program in electromagnetic and chemical propulsion, which is tied to UTSI’s internationally known short course programs.
These short courses and similar graduate study course in aeronautical and mechanical engineering, have been offered to both full-time and off-campus students for many years.
“Now, some of our graduates return as lecturers for our short courses,” Schulz said. “This is part of our historical legacy.”
An important and unique feature of the Space Institute, Schulz says, “is the amount of personal attention that the students can get, which provides a good background for their studies. This, too, is one of our strengths.”