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.

Enabling Commercial Autonomy in Aviation: An Ontology and Framework for Automating UAS

Juliette Chevallier (LGO ’21) 

Engineering Department: Aeronautics and Astronautics
Company: Boeing

Problem: At Boeing, alignment across a program early in the ideation and development cycle is critical to success and saving time early on can allow more of the budget to fund actual product development. Autonomy is a new and complex topic that many individuals approach with pre­conceived notions, which can be a hurdle when beginning a new program, leading to misalignment and lost time. This project aimed to provide a clear guide for program managers to manage new commercial programs with a significant autonomy requirement.

Approach: Juliette’s guide included both an ontology as well as a framework for understanding the increased operational risk associated with a particular autonomous functionality. For the ontology, she used object process methodology (OPM) to model and initially validate the against the metrics of completeness, unambiguity, and congruity. For the creation of the proposed framework, Juliette performed an extensive literature review across different domains, where over 20 separate frameworks were considered. The final framework model was validated by applying it to 13 use cases, both real and theoretical.

Impact: Internally, the ontology and framework developed by Juliette provides program managers a series of concept definitions and relationships that they can choose to implement or adapt as they see fit. Externally, the ontology and framework can be used to describe a particular concept of operations to a regulator. Additionally, the framework may be used to analyze competitors’ efforts and see where other parties are accepting uncertainty. This can further inform the areas of product development for Boeing.

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.