Charli Black is researching at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Charli Black testing vibrations in a 3D printed wingCharli Black testing vibrations in a 3D        
printed wing in a wind tunnel

Charli Black is working with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base this summer as part of her research with Kumar Singh, associate professor in the department of mechanical and manufacturing engineering.

She is expanding on a control algorithm to suppress the flutter in the wings of drones and testing whether the controls work for 3D printed models, which are cheaper and easier to produce than other models.

Black is doing this work as part of the 4+1 program, where she works on both her master's and finishes up her undergrad at the same time. But this wasn’t Black’s original plan.

She had worked with Singh a little bit on research to fill a requirement of the honors program some time previously. In spring of 2016, she was looking for an internship opportunity, and she asked Singh if he knew of any.

He did. He had been working closely with the Air Force Research Lab, and there was a position available.

The student who got the position would be required to work on the base for eight weeks, in addition to doing research with Singh. They would be working with Automated Structural Optimization System (ASTROS), and the leading expert in it. Using ASTROS, the student would be able to do flutter analysis on the wings of drones.

The problem? The student had to be a grad student. And so Black applied and was accepted into the 4+1 program. Since then, her work with Singh and Wright-Patterson has opened many doors for her.

“It’s literally changed my life. It’s changed the course of my career. I know so much more now than I could have learned from any sort of class,” Black said.

Black says she would like to work in aerospace when she graduates with her M.S. in 2018.

By Paige Smith