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AE Ph.D. Student Will Intern With AFRL This Summer

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lex GonzalezLex Gonzalez, a doctoral student in the Mechanical and Aerospace Department, will help examine the impacts of new technologies on spacecraft performance through benchmarking studies of a series of representative space missions through simulated models during an internship this summer.

Gonzalez will work for the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) as a summer intern at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque through the Space Scholars Program. He will work in the spacecraft system and computational benchmarking area.

“Spacecraft are multidisciplinary machines, changing one component has an effect on every other component. The ability to assess these coupled relationships in a pragmatic way is necessary when forecasting which technologies offer the highest potential return on investment (ROI). The goal of the project is to create a framework that identifies these relationships and provides an assessment of ROI for each technology/spacecraft combination,” Gonzalez explained.

He continued: ”My PhD research attempts to outline a dedicated design methodology capable of providing the design decision-maker with propulsion system and airframe alternatives during the critical early conceptual design phase. In a broader sense, my research goal is the creation of a process with the capability to assess the effect of individual technologies on the propulsion system, while connecting those effects with total vehicle performance metrics. The summer internship directly relates to this effort by serving as a technology forecasting case study.”

"Lex is an outstanding talent in the Aerospace Vehicle Design (AVD) Laboratory. He has demonstrated reliable contributions to multiple research grants and subsequent publications, a body of work addressing high-speed vehicle design and propulsion,” said Gonzalez’s faculty advisor, Bernd Chudoba. 

According to USRA, the goal of Gonzalez’s research is to produce a tool that allows “down-selection of competing technologies through day-in-life, medium-fidelity simulation of total spacecraft that takes into account specific orbital and mission parameters. The tool should allow cogent, high-level quantification of benefits.”