Full-length Featured Newsletter Stories
Yannis Korkolis is passionate about manufacturing. “It is one of the main pillars of security and prosperity in the history of most, if not all, developed nations” he says. Korkolis joined the department in August 2009, after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin. Fittingly, his research helps develop novel manufacturing processes. But in contrast to the time consuming and costly trial-and-error development, he works with his students to create a scientific understanding of what works and why, when transforming a raw material to a finished product.
But what is to research in manufacturing? Here is an example: for decades, car bodies were made out of mild steel. But in the last 15-20 years, the automotive industry, driven by regulations on fuel consumption, pollutant emissions but also crashworthiness, has created and introduced many advanced, strong, lightweight materials, such as dual-phase steels, transformation-induced plasticity steels and aluminum and magnesium alloys. The problem is that none of them is as formable as mild steel, so in order to make a car body out of these materials, new manufacturing processes that suit then have to be developed.
Take the recent example of continuous bending-under-tension, or CBT, which Korkolis is investigating along with Profs. Kinsey and Knezevic under a National Science Foundation research award and with Ford, Alcoa and US Steel as the industrial partners. “We have built a custom CBT testing machine in Kingsbury, and we have been able to stretch an automotive aluminum alloy that typically fails at about 20-25% strain to more than 50%. That’s doubling the strain before failure”, says Korkolis. “And frankly, I don’t know if anyone in industry or academia clearly understands what causes that improvement (hence the research grant to figure it out). But beyond just satisfying our curiosity, if we understand this effect and come up with a manufacturing process that takes advantage of it, that would be a big step in making car bodies from aluminum and other lightweight materials, as we’ll be able to stretch and form them like mild steel.”
Korkolis uses both experiments and analysis in his work. The experiments often require his team to create unique testing machines, such as the one for the CBT research above. Another example is a testing machine that Korkolis and his students are building for testing very small, stainless steel tubes for biomedical applications. The microtubes will be loaded under axial force and internal pressure. “We are trying to understand how much we can stretch this material under different combinations of stresses before it fails, so we can decide what is the best way to manufacture a biomedical component”, says Korkolis. “When this machine is up and running, it will be a unique research tool, perhaps the only one of its kind for these microtubes around the world.”
How about teaching and student involvement? “I happen to always be building a machine of some kind or the other, so I appreciate everything that we learn from books when it comes to design, but also everything else that we can’t learn from them”, says Korkolis. “When I was teaching Machine Design, I would have the students design a mechanism using dynamics, strength of materials and all of these good things, and then print the components in the ME 3D printer, assemble the mechanism and power it up with a motor to see if it works as planned. The inevitable mix of surprise, frustration, brainstorming, solution and satisfaction that the students would go through during the implementation & testing phase was very gratifying to see. Realizing that sometimes they couldn’t even assemble properly the mechanism they themselves had designed, much less someone else in a factory, was as useful as understanding the stresses in beam bending. It is a unique experience, this transition from the paper (or the screen) to the real component, the real assembly, the real world, and it is very instructive to have someone go through it at the same time as they are learning the equations and all these other great things. At the end of the day, our main mission is to educate good engineers, whether in the classroom, or the teaching lab, or the machine shop, or a research project”, says Korkolis. “Ideally, in all of these together!”
Life has no boundaries for Paige Balcolm
Paige Balcom is a sophomore in the UNH ME program. Born and raised in Londonderry, New Hampshire, Paige is heavily involved on and off campus.
Paige is a Project Lead for Engineers Without Borders (EWB) student organization. EWB’s mission is to encourage, support, and implement environmentally and economically sustainable technical projects in local and international communities, while developing globally responsible and knowledgeable students. Since 2010, the UNH chapter has been working in a rural community of Lukodi located in Northern Uganda. In January, Paige and four other students traveled to Lukodi to complete a potable water project and start a new project. They tested 10 wells (half of which were contaminated), disinfected the water, built fences to keep animals from infecting the wells, and trained the community in pump maintenance. For the new project, the team gathered data and gained government approval to construct teachers’ quarters and latrines at a primary school where teachers are unable to make it to school everyday because their commute is too far and expensive. Building housing at the school will allow the teachers to teach everyday and improve the children’s education.
Paige is also a student leader in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship—a student organization striving to build an open, close-knit community and transform students’ lives through the power of Jesus Christ. InterVarsity hosts weekly meetings for students to discuss the Bible, pray together, and worship God. Since Paige has a passion for foreign cultures, she started an outreach ministry to international students. Through a weekly Bible study, students can ask open questions, build friendships, and discover God’s truth which many have never heard before.
Last semester, Paige obtained a part-time internship at HydroComp, Inc. Conveniently located in downtown Durham, HydroComp is a naval architecture firm internationally renowned for its modeling software. At her internship, Paige learned Visual Basic to code new features for the HydroComp programs.
In high school, Paige was a founding member of The Inventioneers, LLC. Their team of six teen entrepreneurs invented and patented the SMARTwheel—an anti-distracted driving device. They performed a pilot study at MIT and presented to the US Secretary of Transportation. In February 2013 they were featured on the national television show, Shark Tank.
Paige’s career goal is to work as an engineer helping people in developing countries. The UNH courses she has taken so far have piqued her interest in mechanics and CAD. Paige’s story is an example of the great opportunities UNH offers its students to prepare them for the workforce.
Senior Project: QuadSat C
Top row: Sean Patry, Brendan Martin, Drew Stock, Jesse Mailhot
Bottom row: Tim Patterson, Nick Frederico, Brad Poegel, Mike Boyd
The Buzz About Kevin Jerram
After graduating from the UNH B.S. Mechanical Engineering program in 2007, Kevin combined his interests in engineering and the marine environment for positions with Shoals Marine Laboratory and Ocean Classroom Foundation. It was during a voyage on SSV Westward that Kevin decided to return to graduate school for research in underwater acoustics, an area that had piqued his curiosity while taking Ocean Engineering classes as an undergraduate.
Kevin returned to UNH to start the M.S. Ocean Engineering (Ocean Mapping option) program in early 2011 and has since been working with Dr. Thomas Weber to improve acoustic techniques for detecting, locating, and characterizing midwater plumes of bubbles from natural marine gas seeps. There is widespread interest in these capabilities because marine gas seeps often support diverse biological communities on the seafloor and occasionally provide direct pathways to the atmosphere for greenhouse gases, such as methane. The distribution of seeps over the planet’s seafloor and the behaviors of those seeps are not completely understood, especially with regard to the temporal variability of gas flow. Many seeps have been observed turning ‘on’ and ‘off’ or appearing to change their vent locations on the seafloor.
In 2011 and 2012, Kevin and Dr. Weber took part in two research cruises in the northern Gulf of Mexico aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer to collect acoustic data for seeps using an echosounder system traditionally employed for fishery research. The echosounder enabled estimates of gas flow based on calibrated measurements of the acoustic scattering strengths of bubbles, a metric typically applied to the gas-filled swim bladders of fish for species identification and density calculation.
Figure 1 (below) shows three plumes as they appear in the echosounder data over the course of hundreds of pings. The top panel depicts acoustic scattering strengths throughout the water column, in which the seafloor appears as a horizontal meandering red line at approximately 1500 m range; there are also horizontal bands of biological scatterers at 1100-1500 m and 200-500 m. Target angles in the alongship (fore-aft) and athwartship (port-starboard) directions are shown in the middle and bottom panels, respectively. The angle data are used in conjunction with two-way travel time, sound speed profiles, and ship position and attitude to determine plume positions, their sources on the seafloor, and the minimum observable depths reached by the bubbles. The calibrated scattering strength data inform estimates of gas flow, a major goal of remote sensing for gas seeps.
During his graduate program, Kevin has thoroughly enjoyed opportunities for field research in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans. After graduation this May, he intends to remain connected with Dr. Weber’s ongoing seep mapping efforts at UNH CCOM/JHC and already has plans to join a research cruise for similar work along the Siberian continental shelf this fall.
Below are a few images of Kevin in the field. These are in the Gulf of Mexico aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer in 2011. Kevin is helping to do an at-sea field calibration of a sonar system.
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