Research Capabilities

The Mechanical Engineering Department has faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate students involved in research projects in various areas.  Overall, the unit is very strong in materials and thermal related research.   Examples of current research include biofuels testing, high temperature materials for efficient and clean power generation, structural materials for aerospace systems, and piping systems for petrochemical industry and infrastructure applications. 

  • Research Focus Areas and Capabilities
  • Selected Research and Development (R&D) Activities
  • Faculty Members and Expertise
  • Research and Instructional Labs

 

Research Focus Areas and Capabilities

Manufacturing: Computer Aided Designing, Modeling and Simulation, Additive Manufacturing (Fused Deposition Modeling and Digital Light Projection), Composites Synthesis and Manufacturing, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Data Dependent systems, Machine Vision/Image Processing, Mechatronics, Metrology, Robotics and Statistical Data Processing

Materials: High Temperature Testing, Industrial Metallurgy and Materials Engineering, Materials Processing, Mechanical Behavior of Materials/Microstructure and Nanocrystalline Materials

Thermal Science/Fluids: Computational Fluid Dynamics and Heat Transfer, High Heat Flux Applications, Thermo-Physical Properties Experimental Characterization, Transport Processes and Phase change in Porous Media and in Manufacturing Processes, Modeling and Simulation of Multi-phase flow and heat transfer in propulsion systems

Energy Conservation: HVAC, Solar Energy System Design, Alternative Energy, Computer-based Preventative Maintenance, Energy Management Control System Analysis, and Computer Simulation of Buildings

Composite Materials: Chemical Characterization and Surface Analysis, Composites Manufacturing, Mechanical and Impact Testing, Thermal Analysis

Experimental Solid Mechanics: Thermal Stresses, Mechanics of Materials and Material Properties

Failure Criteria and Stress Analysis: Solid Modeling & Finite Element Analysis

 

Selected Research and Development (R&D) Activities 
  • Providing technical training in the form of a seminar presenting:
  • On current thermal characterization data for the materials of interest
  • On structural characteristics (tensile/compressive strength vs. temperature, etc.)
  • On cost comparisons
  • On manufacturing technologies and limitations
  • Any other data relevant to possible use of the material in a space environment
  • Investigate processing of high temperature thermal barrier coatings (TBC) materials for structural applications, thermal protection, and gas turbine engines
  • Design and performance analyses of coatings
  • Conduct research on coatings deposition science and technology and characterization of coatings structure / property relations - collaborative research with other institutions
  • Applications of high temperature advanced composite materials, thermo-physical property measurements and evaluations
  • Conduct research on thermal and mechanical performance of high temperature materials
  • Electron microscopy and structure evaluations
  • Investigate fuel cell systems and materials for clean power generation

 

Faculty Members and Expertise

For research assistance or contract work in these areas, please contact the following researcher(s): 

Blevins, Edgar R., Ph.D. Professor; Project/Engineering Management, Automotive Technology, Computer-Aided Design and Drafting & Computer Integrated Manufacturing Systems.

Karen Crosby, PhD, Professor; Characterization of Material Properties

Samuel Ibekwe, PhD, PE, Professor; Impact response of composite materials, experimental solid mechanics, and finite element analysis of engineering structures

Amitava Jana, PhD, Professor; Numerical Computations Control and Simulation

H. Dwayne Jerro, PhD, Professor and Chair; Robotics, Wind Energy Modeling, Computational Materials

Guoqiang Li, PhD, Professor; Joint Faculty with LSU; Fiber Reinforced Composite Materials and Nanocomposites

Patrick F. Mensah, PhD, Professor; Heat Transfer and Thermo-Mechanical Characterization of Advanced Composite Materials and Polymeric Materials, Computational Fluid Dynamics and Two phase flow systems

Habib Mohamadian, PhD, PE Professor and Dean; Material characterization, solid modeling, failure analysis, and assessment

 

Research and Instructional Labs

NO.

LABORATORY

ROOM (PINCH)

PROFESSOR(S) IN CHARGE

1

 Additive Manufacturing/Entergy 3D Design Lab*

118

Kodiyalam, Blevins

2

 Aerospace (Thermal Characterization)

399

Mensah, Akwaboa

3

 CAVE

157

Jana

4

 CREST Chemistry Lab

386

Mensah, Dawan

5

 Composite Materials Processing

160

Ibekwe, Li, Dawan

6

 Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) / Materials Characterization

156

Jana, Warren

7

 Energy Conversion (Renewable & Internal Combustion)

131

Mensah

8

 Fluid Mechanics

392

Akwaboa

9

 Heat Transfer (Thermal Characterization)

397

Mensah

10

 Manufacturing Processes & Model Shop

150

Jana, Warren

11

 Materials Processing

163

Dawan, Ibekwe, Li

12

 Measurements/Instrumentation

398

Jana, Warren

13

 Mechatronics

396

Jana, Jerro

14

 Polymer Processing and Characterization

448

Mensah, Ibekwe

15

 Solid Modeling and Computer Aided Drafting & Design (CADD)

116

Blevins, Warren

16

 Structures/Survey/Materials Testing

148

Li, Ibekwe

Note:    * This lab does not fall under the inventory of the ME Department, but the College of Sciences and Engineering.  It is listed because it proves great utility to the ME Department in that it promotes student learning of engineering design and additive  manufacturing technology.

 

Aerospace – Room 399

The aerodynamic and fluid mechanics laboratories with a 0-140 fps wind tunnel, a water tunnel, and a 3-D Laser Doppler Anemometer are used in funded research project and part of instructional experiments for MEEN313 (Fluid Dynamics).

Composite Materials and Structures Laboratory (CMSL) – Including Room 160

CMSL is a center for composites research in the state of Louisiana established in 1999. It encompasses Southern University and Louisiana State University of Baton Rouge which are actively involved in the research of composite materials.

The objective of CMSL apart from acting as a research facility in the area of composite materials is to provide research opportunities to young undergraduates who are interested in pursuing a career in the area of composites.  In this direction, courses are being offered in composite materials to introduce the students to basics.  Undergraduate students are also actively involved in the various research projects.

The research activities of CMSL comprise of fabrication, testing, and analysis of composite materials and structures, including nanocomposites, syntactic foam, smart composites, particulate-filled composites, grid stiffened composite structures, sandwich structures, laminated composite structures, fiber reinforced polymer tube encased concrete cylinders, repair/rehabilita-tion/reinforcement/ reconstruction of degraded or damaged infrastructures using composites, composite piping systems, pressure vessels, and smart composite joints. CMSL is excelled in its various state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to conduct materials characterization and to evaluate structural response. The research activities in CMSL have been funded by NSF, DOE, NASA, ARO, ONR, AFRL, FHWA, NGA, USDA, USACE, TRB, LaBoR, LTRC, MBTC, LaSPACE, and various industries. Faculty members associated with this lab have many high-quality refereed journal publications, book chapters, conference proceedings/ presentations, and invited/distinguished talks. The typical equipment in CMSL is listed below:

  • A Cordin 550 High Speed Imaging System (up to 1.5 million frames per second);
  • Split Hopkinson Pressure Bar;
  • A Home-Made Two-stage Light Gas Gun Device (capable of velocity 2,000m/s);
  • 16mm/40mm Two Stage Light Gas Gun by Physics Applications Inc. (purchasing in process);
  • UltraPAC Ultrasonic Imaging System;
  • Sonic Model VC-750 ultrasonic mixer for nanocomposite;
  • Airtech Vacuum Assisted Resin Infusion Molding (VARIM) System;
  • NETZSCH type 50 bench-top three-roll mill for nanocomposites;
  • Nanotrac 150 particle size analyzer;
  • Instron 3200 series internal pressure tester;
  • RAZ-IR Infrared Camera;
  • A Cooper LVDT system;
  • A Yokogawa DC-100 data acquisition system;
  • Dynamic Mechanical Analyzer (DMA) Q800;
  • A dedicated lathe machine for composites machining;
  • QUV Accelerated Weathering Tester-simulate every possible environment;
  • Environmental Chamber-used for humidity and temperature control;
  • Precision Automatic Surface Cutter-3D High precision cutting;
  • A 50-ton Laboratory Press with 2 Platens;
  • Hot Press-used for the fabrication of composite plates;
  • RTM-resin transfer molding equipment;
  • A WLH two-axis filament winder.
  • COSMOS/M;
  • Solidworks;
  • COSMOS/WORKS;
  • LS-DYNA;
  • ANSYS

Computer Integrated Manufacturing – Room 156

In design and manufacturing area a CAD/CAM laboratory coupled with a computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) laboratory provide hands-on experience and an understanding of the design to manufacturing concept.  Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) embodies three components essential to the implementation of flexible design & manufacturing -- the means for information storage, retrieval, manipulation and presentation; the mechanisms by which to sense state, and modify substance; and the methodologies by which to unite them. The Computer Integrated Manufacturing Laboratory (CIMLab), founded in 1994, provides students and research associates with necessary facilities to contribute to the success of this goal. The CIM laboratory houses a fully computer-integrated manufacturing cell equipped with a robot, CNC milling machine and lathe, Allen-Bradley PLC and machine vision system.  Mazak CNC lathe, a Bridgeport CNC milling machine, and Brown & Sharp Gage 2000 R co-ordinate measuring machine (CMM) are also available in CIM laboratory.

The IMTL Facility – Room 148

The Integrated Mechanical Testing Laboratory is a facility for:

  • Mechanical properties of materials
  • Tension, compression, bending, shear, Impact, fatigue, residual stresses, high temperature testing
  • Variety of materials such as metals, ceramics, plastics, composites.
  • Stress analysis
  • Vibration testing
  • Failure analysis
  • Crack growth characterization. Fracture tests for toughness determination.
  • Materials testing per ASTM specifications
  • Computational mechanics and finite element modeling and verification
  • Durability studies
  • Undergraduate mechanical testing lab
  • LabView Programming and Instrumentation Interfaces

Several state-of-the-art closed loop uniaxial test systems for testing of materials and structures are available for general testing purposes. These test machines are rated from 450 N to 500 kN (100 lbs - 110 kips) up to 250 kN in axial force capacity and are computer controlled.  Facilities include hardware and software systems in digital controller technology, instrumentation for displacement and strain measurement, multi-channel data acquisition, digital data processing software. Environmental chambers exist for testing specimens from -100ºF to 3,000ºF. Experiments such as fracture, creep, fatigue, and cyclic loading can be conducted on various materials and structures.

The department's material testing capabilities in the area of materials science and engineering consist of a 55 kips rated MTS Landmark 370.25 Servo-hydraulic Universal Testing Machine equipped with numerical controlled hardware and software for mechanical testing up to 316, Pneumatic grips.

Both the CSML and IMTL research laboratories resulted from the synergy between the Mechanical Engineering programs of Southern University and Louisiana State University.  This synergy was fostered by the former Joint Faculty Appointment Program (JFAP).

Engineering Materials Laboratory – Room 163

This laboratory facility (Pinchback 163) houses equipment for characterization of engineering materials.  The department's material testing capabilities in this area of materials science and engineering consist of an in-house microscopic image processor, and a Scanning Electron Microscope (Hitachi S-2460N) for fractography and microstructure analysis.  Also, a complete set of equipment for light microscopy and metallography is available. Metallographic equipment is shared with instructional laboratory.

Mechatronics – Room 396

Mechatronics technology emerged from the fusion of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. In order to accommodate this emergent technology in the engineering curriculum, the Mechanical Engineering Department developed an interdisciplinary mechatronics laboratory and a course (in collaboration with Electrical Engineering) with support from National Science Foundation and the Louisiana Board of Regents.

The present mechatronics laboratory includes various physical systems such as fluid, manufacturing, robots, DC motors, stepper motors, and toy trains.  Some general-purpose instruments such as an oscilloscope, function generator, and multimeter are also available in the laboratory for testing and troubleshooting.  All these physical systems can be controlled by computers through a suitable electronic interface.  The main objective is to provide hands-on interdisciplinary mechatronics design experience to the students.

Polymer Processing and Characterization Laboratory – Room 448

Polymer blending and thermal characterization are important steps in the development of new polymer composites. This lab includes polymer blending apparatus at large (batch mixing: ~200-400 grams) and small scales (micro-compounding: ~5 grams). The lab also has equipment for determining thermal stability (thermos-gravimetric analysis) and heat content (differential thermal analysis).

 

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