Anna Oldani Department of Transportation Student of the Year

Our own Anna Oldani (Ph.D. student) has been chosen to receive the Department of Transportation Student of the Year Award (DOT SOY).

Anna Oldani

Anna has devoted her Ph.D. into alternative jet fuel research, in the process assembling the first database for alternative jet fuel database for the Federal Aviation Administration ( The database has been assembled in close collaboration with researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory including Drs. Tim Edwards and Steve Zabarnick.

This year, the FAA led database will officially link with the Jetscreen program in Europe and will become the leading alternative jet fuel database for the two continents moving forward.

New Center for UAS Propulsion Center Kicks Off

A new research center named the Center for UAS Propulsion (CUP) has been launched and is headquartered in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering (MechSE) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The center will be led by Professor Tonghun Lee.

“The center will focus on discovery, innovation, and transition of Unmanned Aircraft System propulsion technologies,” Lee said. “The collective synergy of government, academia, and relevant industry is expected to result in novel technologies that can propel next generation UAVs for our nation.”

Lead Institution

The website for CUP has launched is located at

Primarily supported by the Army Research Laboratory as part of ARL-Central, the center will also benefit from the participation of several other DoD agencies (AFRL, AFOSR, ONR, and NRL) as well as academic institutions and industry. The list includes AMRDEC (ADD, AED), Argonne National Labs, PM UAS, PEO Aviation, GA-ASI, Northrop Grumman, GM, GE-GRC, Convergent Science Inc, UIUC, UW-Madison, ISU, OSU, Northwestern, UIC, NASA GRC, SNL, ANL, UNSW (Australia), KAIST (S. Korea), ADD (S. Korea), and TAMU. More partners will join in the future as new expertise is added.

The overall government lead will be Dr. Chol-Beom “Mike” Kweon, the Propulsion Division at the Vehicle Technologies Directorate at ARL.

CUP research will focus on new advances in multi-fuel capable hybrid electric propulsion system and other novel propulsion technologies, including:

  • Extreme Fuel-Ignition Characterization
  • Variable Energy Assisted Compression Ignition
  • Reliable High-Temp Coatings/Lightweight Materials
  • Tribological Materials for Extreme Low Viscosity
  • High-Pressure Compact Air Management
  • Hybrid Electric Optimization/Integration
  • Power Management
  • Electric Machines for Hybrid Power
  • High-Power Advanced Batteries

At the University of Illinois, two faculty members (Lee and Associate Professor Daniel Bodony from Aerospace Engineering) and a number of students and postdocs have been hired by ARL to help in the establishment of the center. The main support areas in addition to the coordination of the Center at Illinois includes fuel characterization, development of new energetically enhanced ignition systems, and multi-phase spray characterization at Argonne National Labs Advanced Photon Source.

Efforts by MechSE professors Sungwoo Nam and Gaurav Bahl are contributing to tangential technologies required in the engine development.

Shruti and Jeongan execute Fire Safety Burns at IFSI

IFSI Fire Safety Research Campaign

The campaign was conducted at the Illinois Fire Service Institute. During the first study, held on May 2nd, 2018, real time water vapor concentration readings were taken in the non-fire room in a metal can structure at IFSI. It consisted of six scenarios of fire resulting in a wide range of water vapor and smoke concentrations. The second study, conducted on May 10th, 2018, measured water vapor concentration in the fire room in a steel and concrete ranch structure at IFSI to study the difference that the building material makes on water vapor and smoke concentrations. The fuels used for both the studies were Pallet & Straw, Pallet, Straw & OSB, and Lightweight Furniture. The fires were imaged using visible light and IR cameras and the water vapor concentration was measured using the 3-location water vapor sensor developed by Shruti Ghanekar.