Engineers honored with American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics awards


By Mariah Chuprinski

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Two Penn State engineering faculty members were named recipients of international awards from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Established in 1963, AIAA is the world’s largest technical society devoted to the aerospace profession. 

Ken Brentner, professor of aerospace engineering at Penn State, will receive the AIAA Aeroacoustics Award, and Karen Thole, Penn State Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering, will receive the AIAA Thermophysics Award.  

Established in 1973, the Aeroacoustics Award is presented to an individual for their outstanding technical or scientific achievement resulting from a significant contribution to the field of aircraft community noise reduction, according to the award description.  

Brentner was selected for his “fundamental contributions to aeroacoustics and rotorcraft noise prediction, including the introduction of the permeable surface formulations of the Ffowcs Williams and Hawkings equation,” according to AIAA. The Ffowcs Williams and Hawkings equation describes the sound generated by flow around a solid object moving in arbitrary motion.  

“It is very exciting to receive this award for the research my students and I have contributed to rotorcraft noise and aeroacoustics, which has been used for helicopter, propeller and other rotating blade noise, as well as jet, airframe and wind turbine noise,” Brentner said. “The theory was incorporated into our lab’s noise prediction tool, was enhanced and extended by my students and is now used by over hundreds of government, industry and academic users around the world.” 

Brentner has published over 150 peer-reviewed journal and conference papers on aerodynamically generated noise – many of which involved rotorcraft noise.  

“This is the biggest award in aeroacoustics, given to those who have achieved the biggest things,” said Amy Pritchett, head of the Penn State Department of Aerospace Engineering. “With this award, Dr. Brentner joins the ranks of people chosen from around the world as the recognized leaders in this field.” 

Established in 1975, the Thermophysics Award is presented to individuals who have achieved an “outstanding singular or sustained scientific contribution” in thermophysics, specifically as it relates to the study and application of the “properties and mechanisms involved in thermal energy transfer and the study of environmental effects on such properties and mechanisms,” according to the award description.  

“Dr. Thole is leading the way in the integration of additive manufacturing and advanced gas turbine engines,” said Mary Frecker, head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering. “The mechanical engineering department is proud of her tremendous research accomplishments and this significant recognition.” 

Thole was honored for her research “at the intersection of additive manufacturing and heat transfer in gas turbine engines that enables innovative combustor and turbine cooling designs,” according to AIAA.  

Thole has published over 300 peer-reviewed papers. 

“I’m honored to receive this award from AIAA because it recognizes our contributions to evolving 3D metal printing to a technology that can be used to explore novel cooling designs,” Thole said. “With the help of my very bright students, we are opening up the design space while being able to test and develop these new designs even faster than we could before through traditional manufacturing.” 

Brentner will accept the award at the AIAA/CEAS Aeroacoustics Conference, co-sponsored by the Council of European Aerospace Societies, in Southampton, England, in June, while Thole will accept the award at the AIAA AVIATION Forum and Exposition in Chicago in June. 


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