Research Assistantships

Experimental Fluid Mechanics
Research focused on unravelling the physical mechanisms of fluid behaviors, through high-speed imaging, novel image processing techniques and imbedded instrumentation. Experimental analysis of fluid systems such as fluid-structure interactions, multi-phase flows, and free surface phenomena including water impact events. Visit for more information. Doctoral student preferred.  Contact Dr. Tadd Truscott (

Experimental Solid Mechanics
The Mechanics at Extreme Temperatures Lab is looking for highly motivated PhD students interested in thermo-mechanical testing at temperatures upwards of 1000°C.  Our lab uses advanced imaging techniques to study heterogeneous mechanical phenomena including fracture, fatigue, thermal stresses, and creep.  Materials of interest include nickel superalloys, refractory alloys, graphite, ceramics, and ceramic matrix composites.  Applications are geared towards the energy, aerospace, and nuclear industries. Candidates who already have completed an MS in Mechanical Engineering or a related field are preferred, but students seeking a direct-to-PhD degree will also be considered.  Women and underrepresented minorities in engineering are especially encouraged to apply.  Doctoral student preferred.  Contact Dr. Ryan Berke ( for more information.

Materials Modeling and Design
Research is focused on the modeling and design of nanostructured materials for energy storage, composites, and biological applications.  Computation staring from the nanoscale will reveal key molecular insights into fundamental mechanisms and inspire new designs.  Master's or Doctoral student. Contact Dr. Ling Liu ( for more information.

Thermal Engineering
Research is focused on the fabrication and measurement of nanoenhanced thermal management materials. The work will be focused on developing materials processing procedures for optimized thermal properties and use thermal measurement techniques to characterize the materials. Doctoral student. Contact Dr. Nick Roberts ( for more information.

Green Propellants
USU is investigating ionic liquids (ILs) as a potential "green," less-hazardous replacement for hydrazine-based spacecraft propellants. Current state-of-the-art IL-based propellants are extremely hard to ignite, and catalyst beds must be preheated to at least 350 C, which consumes significant energy -- up to 15,000 joules. Also, catalytic reactor beds are heavy, volumetrically inefficient, and add significant dry mass to spacecraft. These features do not scale well to small sizes, and present a significant disadvantage for nano-scale spacecraft where power and mass budgets are extremely limited. USU's research focuses on non-catalytic hybrid combustion methods that have the potential to act as a "drop-in" replacement for existing IL catalyst beds. Research will include both analytical and experimental investigations to optimize the system design and allow characterization of limiting oxygen concentrations, minimum ignition energy, quenching distance, and fundamental burn velocity. Doctoral or Master's student. Contact Stephen A. Whitmore ( for more info.

Reentry Vehicle Flight Mechanics
USU has been contracted to develop a reentry airmass reference system for the SNC Dreamchaser® vehicle. The Dream Chaser® is a crewed orbital spacecraft being developed to provide NASA with a safe, reliable commercially operated transportation service for crew and cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). The vehicle will re-enter the atmosphere from space as a gliding vehicle, and perform an unpowered horizontal landing on a conventional runway in a manner similar to the now-retired Space Shuttle. Generally, the aircraft-like design of the Dream Chaser mandates the real-time acquisition of air-mass reference measurements for flight-critical sub-systems including guidance, inner and outer-loop flight control, and terminal area energy management. The proposed flush airdata sensing (FADS) system, where airmass reference data are calculated from multiple nonintrusive surface pressure measurements using data fusion and system identification techniques, is designed to circumvent reentry heating issues associated with conventional measurement probes. Research is focused on algorithm development, sensor configuration optimization, sensor communication bus development, systems integration, and data fusion techniques. Vehicle flight test support at Edwards Air Force base will be a task performed under this project. Student will travel to support flight tests.  Doctoral or Master's student. Contact Stephen A. Whitmore ( for more info.