A career of discovery

UTA’s Maddalena named fellow of Royal Aeronautical Society

Tuesday, Feb 11, 2020 • Herb Booth :

Luca Maddalena, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at The University of Texas at Arlington

The Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) has elected Luca Maddalena, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at The University of Texas at Arlington, as a fellow in the world’s oldest professional body dedicated to the aerospace community.

Maddalena, who has been at UTA since 2010 and serves as director of its Aerodynamics Research Center, is a member of the NATO Task Force in Hypersonic Turbulence and has also served as past chair of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics’ Hypersonic Technologies and Aerospace Planes Program Committee.

Maddalena was instrumental in the design and construction of an arc-heated, hypersonic wind tunnel at UTA. One of only a handful in the United States and the only one of its kind at a U.S. university, the hypersonic tunnel was brought online in July 2019.

“This is a tremendous honor and great recognition of Dr. Maddalena’s scientific leadership, and represents the esteem in which he is held by his peers in academia and the aeronautical community worldwide,” UTA President Vistasp Karbhari said. “I’m extremely proud of him as a faculty member at UTA. His work in hypersonics and the innovation he showed in building a unique test facility have placed the University on the map in his area of his specialty, and I look forward to hearing of many more successes in the future.”

Maddalena has worked extensively on fundamental investigations of mixing and combustion in turbulent supersonic flows and their application to hypersonic airbreathing propulsion. He also has studied reusable thermal protection systems and thermal management for sustained hypersonic flight. His research has been funded by NASA’s Langley Research Center, the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

In 2019, he won a pair of Office of Naval Research grants totaling more than $1.5 million. The first was a three-year, $820,000 grant for fundamental research on characterizing arc-jet plasma flow and the second was a $690,000 Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) grant to purchase a femtosecond laser system, which is the only one of its kind to be used in an arc-heated wind tunnel in the United States. (A femtosecond is one quadrillionth, or one millionth of a billionth, of a second.) Maddalena previously earned a $1.01 million DURIP grant to support the design and construction of the new wind tunnel.

“I am honored to have been elected a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and I look forward to being an active contributor and supporting its activities,” Maddalena said.

Maddalena is the second current College of Engineering professor to be honored as an RAeS fellow. Frank Lu, a professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department and former director of the Aerodynamics Research Center, is also a fellow.

UTA’s Aerodynamics Research Center boasts low-speed, transonic and supersonic wind tunnels and a hypersonic shock tunnel in addition to the arc-jet tunnel. It has been a national leader in aerodynamics research for nearly 35 years.

The Royal Aeronautical Society exists to further advance aeronautical art, science and engineering around the world. Established in Britain in 1866, the RAeS has been at the forefront of developments in aerospace, seeking to promote the highest professional standards and provide a central forum for sharing knowledge. It now has over 22,500 members and has become an international, multidisciplinary professional institution dedicated to the global aerospace community.

Fellowship of the Royal Aeronautical Society is the highest achievement attainable and is only bestowed upon those in the profession of aeronautics or aerospace who either have made an outstanding contribution to the profession, attained a position of high responsibility or have had long experience of high quality in the profession.

— Written by Jeremy Agor, College of Engineering