Research & Development

Some LGO students dive deep into scientific research topics and work in a company as an R&D intern. These projects use cutting-edge technologies to solve unique problems or create new discoveries. They use engineering research practices and find ways to apply those discoveries in a business context. The result is often a new product or design.

Value Proposition Development for Mid-Sized Unmanned Air Cargo Vehicles 

Patrick Butler (LGO 19) 

Engineering Department: Aeronautics and Astronautics
Company: Bell
Location: Hurst, TX

Butler, Bell, 2019
One mission use Patrick tracked was the time-critical delivery of transplant organs.

Problem: Due to current regulation restricting unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to small unmanned aerial vehicles, research for mid-sized UAS (>55 pounds) is lacking. Patrick’s project was an in-depth analysis of the potential commercial uses and values around the adoption and logistics of mid-sized UAS to facilitate future vehicle design and customer engagement strategies. 

Approach: Patrick started his three-phase approach by researching and determining 15 viable market opportunities as reference missions where mid-sized cargo UAS could be utilized across industries. His second phase identified broad value attributes including Cost, Time, and Vehicle Capabilities. The third phase was to create a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) tool to evaluate the various reference missions based on customer requirements for each value attribute.  

Impact: Patrick’s research revealed that the most important factor to reduce cost for a medium-lift cargo UAS is creating a system that allows multiple vehicles per operator. His MCDA tool can provide a strategic roadmap for market introduction and optimal market penetration for the family of unmanned air cargo vehicles and the tool has since been expanded into a Mission Design Model used to evaluate the feasibility of potential customer missions.

Assessing the opportunity to produce Nitinol medical device components using additive manufacturing

Arvind Kalidindi (LGO ’19) 

Engineering Department: Materials Science and Engineering (PhD)
Company: Boston Scientific
Location: Clonmel, Ireland 

Problem: The strength and elasticity of Nitinol (a nickel-titanium alloy) make it an important alloy for medical device applications. Nitinol is hard to manufacture cost-effectively while maintaining its superelastic properties. Boston Scientific sought to leverage Arvind’s PhD-level expertise in additive manufacturing to explore 3D printing as a new way to manufacture Nitinol effectively. 

Approach: At Boston Scientific’s plant in Clonmel, Ireland, Arvind printed a hundred Nitinol samples to conduct a design of experiment procedure to optimize for desired part characteristics. Arvind identified loss of nickel during printing as the key engineering challenge, and created a cost and engineering model for addressing these challenges during future 3D printing operations. 

Kalidindi, Boston Scientific, 2019
3D printing optimization sample run from Arvind’s project

Impact: Arvind found that 3D prototyping and printing of millimeter-sized components would be a cost-effective way to leverage additive manufacturing in the short term, showing distinct advantages over conventional methods such as micromachining.