The Duke University Wind Tunnel is currently undergoing renovations! The newly designed test section will feature a highly modular design to maximize ease of use across a range of tests and conditions. Details and images of the renovations to come!

Learn more about the wind tunnel here!

Earl Dowell, the William Holland Hall Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Duke University, has been named this year’s recipient of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Reed Aeronautics Award. The award is the highest honor an individual can receive for notable achievement in aeronautics.

Dowell is being recognized for his “pioneering contributions to aeroelasticity, structural dynamics, and unsteady aerodynamics which have had a tremendous influence on aerospace technology.” Along with a certificate and a medal, he will be recognized in Washington, DC on June 15, 2016, at the AIAA’s annual Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala held in conjunction with the AIAA Aviation and Aeronautics Forum and Exposition.

“Each of this year’s Spotlight Gala Award recipients has distinguished themselves by improving the state-of-the-art in aerospace science and technology. Their work is a testament to the devotion and dedication that each has to their craft,” said AIAA President Jim Albaugh in a statement issued by the AIAA. “Each is worthy of these honors, that are some of the most important awards our community annually gives. AIAA congratulates each of the recipients and looks forward to seeing how they will continue to shape the future of aerospace.”

The AIAA is the world’s largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession. The Reed Aeronautics Award is named after Dr. Sylvanus A. Reed, aeronautical engineer, designer, and founding member of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences in 1932.


Zhiping Mao, a PhD student in Bob Kielb’s MEMS lab, was invited to Washington as the representative of Duke Chinese students at a recent ceremony forChinese President Xi Jinping. Wearing red t-shirts with a Chinese panda and American eagle logo to indicate long-lasting friendship between China and the U.S., student representatives from all major universities on East Coast welcomed the leader on his second trip to visit the U.S. and President Obama. Zhipingcarried along an elaborately prepared flag of Duke University translated into Chinese, which will be on display soon in the Fitzpatrick Center (in the entry area outside Twinnie’s)—be sure to stop by and take a look.


Dr. Robert Kielb recently accompanied three of his PhD Students to the 2015 ASME Turbo Expo Conference, the largest and most prestigious technical conference on turbomachinery.

Of note, students Jing Li (left) and Fanny Besem (right) of Duke collaborated with colleagues from Purdue and Siemens Industrial Turbomachinery on a presentation entitled “Turbomachine Aerodynamic Interaction and Forced Response.” Afterward, Dr. Kielb related that in addition to excellent engineering, the presentation was history-making for the conference, "This is the first time in 60 years that all presenters of a session were female!”

Dr. Kielb's 3rd PhD student, Joshua Waite, also presented his research at the Turbo Expo. His paper and presentation entitled, "The Impact of Blade Loading and Unsteady Pressure Bifurcations on Low-Pressure Turbine Flutter Boundaries", was well received by attending industrial and acadameic entities alike! For his future research, Joshua intends on developing new design criteria for flutter in low-pressure turbine blades. This will require combining his research presented in Montreal with new concepts like mode shape dependencies for shock structure evolutions like the one seen below. 


Durham NC, April 17th, 2014

David Ewins Presents at Duke

In most aerospace structures there are two primary concerns: performance - often dictated by thermo-fluid considerations, and integrity - which is heavily influenced by materials and structural dynamics. On April 17th David Ewins, a Fellow of the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge and Professor gave a talk on the efforts which are under way to improve this aspect of the state-of-the-art aerospace designs of the future. The first part of the talk was a strategic overview of the whole area of Structural Dynamics, seeking to identify some of the crucial topics that present the most urgent challenges for further progress. Dr. Ewins discussed the critical importance of obtaining the correct balance between the three core competences that must be deployed in almost every application – Theoretical Modelling, Numerical Analysis and Experimental Measurement. Then, Dr. Ewins discussed the importance of the integration of test analysis activities which is necessary to carry out Validation and Verification of models. 

In the second part of the talk, Dr. Ewins described some of the recent specific developments in the aero-engine and rotorcraft sectors. First amongst these is the importance, and challenges, of taking proper account of the interfaces and joints which separate the many components in any engineering structure. This leads inevitably to much more frequent encounters with nonlinear behavior, and the need for both modeling and - especially - experimental methods to deal with these effects. Of particular interest throughout was the need to provide technology capabilities that allow industry to be able to analyze, design and test for realistic in-service operating conditions.

Durham, NC, March 27, 2014

It has been an amazing week for Ph.D. student Fanny Besem who has received two awards in rapid succession. First, Fanny was selected for the prestigious Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellowship. Established in 1938 in honor of famed pilot and Zontian, Amelia Earhart, the Amelia Earhart Fellowship is awarded annually to women pursuing Ph.D./doctoral degrees in aerospace-related sciences or aerospace-related engineering. The Fellowship of US$10,000, awarded to 35 Fellows around the globe each year. Since the program's inception, Zonta has awarded 1,403 Amelia Earhart Fellowships, totaling US$8.3 million, to women from 68 countries.

In addition, Fanny was awarded the 2014 ASME IGTI Young Engineer Travel Award. This award provides complimentary registration for the 2014 Turbo Expo Technical Conference that will take place in Düsseldorf, Germany from June 16-20, 2014. Additionally, complimentary hotel accommodations for six days and up to $1,000 towards travel expenses are included in the award package.

Congratulations Fanny!

Durham, NC, March 26, 2014

Joshua Waite was awarded the 2014 ASME IGTI Young Engineer Travel Award. This award provides complimentary registration for the 2014 Turbo Expo Technical Conference that will take place in Düsseldorf, Germany from June 16-20, 2014. Additionally, complimentary hotel accommodations for six days and up to $1,000 towards travel expenses are included in the award package. In return, Joshua will give two presentations at the conference regarding his research: 1) ASME paper GT2014-25133 “Physical Understanding and Sensitivities of LPT Flutter” and 2) a poster describing dynamic snap-through buckling and high-cycle fatigue concerns in hypersonic aircraft wing panels.

Durham, NC. November 23, 2013

Graduate students in the research group joined other engineering graduate students for a morning volunteering with the Durham Habitat for Humanity. The group layed down a vapor barrier, insulated the crawl space and began framing.


Richmond, VA. November 22, 2013

Dr. Dowell visited Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) to present on the "Nonlinear Dynamics of Fluid and Structural Systems". The presentation covers solar sails and solarelasticity, flapping flag aeroelasticity, airfoil buffet, and reduced order models of the Navier Stokes equations. 

The presentation slides can be found here

Durham, NC. November 15, 2013

New Aeroelasticity Research Group WebsiteThe Aeroelasticity Research Group is having an amazing 2013. In addition to launching an all new website, the group has forged new research efforts and received numerous awards. Included here are the highlights from this year.

New Research Efforts

  • GUIde 5 (with Additional Industrial Members) - Turbomachinery Aeroelasticity
  • Sikorsky - Helicopter Rotor Design
  • Army ARO - Helicopter Aerodynamics
  • GE Global Resarch Center - Low Pressure Turbine Flutter
  • Simmetrix US Navy STTR - Blend Effects
  • NSF - Energy Harvesting
  • US/Israel Bilateral Foundation - Buffeting


Joshua Waite

  • 2013 National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship.

S. Chad GibbsChad at the Polytecnic di Milano Wind Tunnel on his trip funded by the Sigma Xi travel grant

  • Sigma Xi, Sally Hughes Schrader Travel Grant
  • Best Presentation - Duke University MEMS Retreat
  • 2012 NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship

Eli Giovanetti

  • 2013 National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship.
  • 2013 AHS Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarship
  • NASA Langley Aerospace Research Scholars Program

Fanny M. Besem

  • Sigma Xi Research Society Grant
  • U.S. National Congress on Computational Mechanics Travel Award
  • U.S. National Congress on Computational Mechanics Best Poster Award (poster link)
  • Best Mechanical Engineering Poster Award - Duke University MEMS Retreat
  • International Gas Turbine Institute (IGTI) Student Scholarship

Stephen T. Clark

  • ASME Student Travel Award
  • IGTI Student Scholarship