Works of Scholarship

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    Tip casing heat transfer measurements of a film-cooled turbine stage in a short duration facility
    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2001) Van Poppel, Bret P.
    An experimental study of the heat transfer to the tip casing of a fully scaled turbine stage was conducted. Pressure and surface temperature measurements were taken on the tip casing. Time-averaged heat flux data was computed and used to assess the influence of stage total pressure ratio, corrected speed and tip gap on casing heat flux. The experimental work was conducted in the MIT Blowdown Turbine Facility using a highly loaded, film-cooled turbine stage. The facility is a short duration experimental structure capable of testing turbine stages under fully scaled conditions to produce useful test durations of 0.5 seconds. The turbine stage tested consisted of film-cooled turbine blades and nozzle guide vanes. During the course of this research, semi-infinite heat flux gauges were designed and fabricated by painting and baking thin platinum films onto machineable ceramic substrates. These gauges were used to experimentally measure surface temperatures on the tip casing with an estimated frequency response of 60 kilohertz. A tip casing insert was designed as an instrument holder to orient the heat flux gauges and highly sensitive pressure transducers on the tip casing surface to spatially resolve heat flux and static pressure. A matrix of test conditions was devised to investigate the effects of various run conditions and tip gaps on tip casing flow. Both a 3.0% and a 1.5% tip-gap-to-span ratio were tested. Run conditions were established by varying the stage pressure ratio and the corrected speed. Results were compared within each test, between tests at the same tip gap, and between tests at different tip gaps. Time averaged data revealed the influence of rotor enthalpy extraction on casing heat flux. Pressure and corrected speed tests showed similar trends at both tip gaps. At design conditions, average endwall heat transfer was approximately 4% greater for the 1.5% tip gap.
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    Summary of the Behavior of Steel-Plate Composite (SC) Walls Subjected to Implusive Loads
    (Structural Mechanics in Reactor Technology (SMiRT-23), 2015) Bruhl, Jakob C.; Varma, Amit
    Steel-plate composite (SC) walls are a viable alternative to reinforced concrete (RC) for protective structures and offer several advantages over RC. Current blast resistant design standards describe methods to design protective structures using RC, structural steel, or masonry in part because of the available experimental database for these materials to validate design methods. While there are blast test results of steel-concrete composite panels available in the literature, they are few and the majority are of specific configurations making it difficult to extrapolate to general behavior. This paper reports representative experimental results of simply supported one-way steel-plate composite (SC) wall sections, designed in accordance with AISC N690s1 Appendix N9 (AISC, 2014), and loaded with short duration uniform pressure pulses representative of far-field blast effects. Two numerical methods to assess the performance of SC walls subjected to blast loads are discussed and comparisons of experimental to numerical results are provided.
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    Steel-Plate Composite Walls Subjected to Missile Impact: Experimental Evaluation of Local Damage
    (American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), 2021-02) Kim, Joo Min; Varma, Amit; Seo, Jungil; Bruhl, Jakob C.; Lee, Kyungkoo; Kim, Kapsun
    This paper presents the results of an experimental program conducted to evaluate the local damage behavior of steel-plate composite (SC) walls subjected to missile impact. There is significant interest in the use of SC walls for protective structures particularly to resist impactive and impulsive loading. The behavior of SC walls subjected to these loads differs from that of reinforced concrete (RC) walls due to the placement of steel plates on the surfaces, which prevents concrete scabbing and enhances local perforation resistance. The results from the experimental program are used to demonstrate and explain progression of damage modes leading to local perforation, and to validate and quantify the conservatism of a recently developed design method. Laboratory-scale SC wall specimens were fabricated and tested in an indoor missile impact facility specially built and commissioned for this research....
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    Teaching Experimental Design in a Fluid Mechanics Course
    (ASEE, 2018) Norberg, Seth; Ashcraft, Tim; Miller, Matthew Louis; Benson, Michael J.
    In this paper we discuss the development and implementation of a new Design of Experiment (DoE) experience in the junior-level Thermal-Fluid Systems course. The goal of the DoE is to teach students about dynamic similarity, uncertainty quantification, and technical communications through a hands-on experience with direct connections to real-world applications. In the newly-designed DoE, students must determine whether they can accurately predict pressure drop in real-world pipe systems---including an oil pipeline, a ventilation duct, a natural gas line, and a water supply line---using the equipment we provide. Although the equipment is prescribed, the procedure is not, which has the benefit of minimizing material requirements while allowing students the freedom to pursue a unique approach. The experience is divided into stages with a mixture of individual and group efforts. Students begin by deriving the relevant equations and crafting an experimental procedure as an individual. They then come together in groups of three or four to conduct the experiment and analyze the data, which includes uncertainty quantification. An instructor provides feedback on the data analysis portion before students communicate their results in a short lab report with extensive appendices. Throughout the experience students are required to communicate the limitations of their experiment by quantifying uncertainty and questioning the validity of their assumptions. Overall, the DoE is an exercise in critical thinking, data gathering, analysis, and interpretation of results. We present details of the DoE assignment, assessment of student learning, student feedback from course evaluations, and recommendations for instructors seeking to implement similar projects in their courses.
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    Stimulating Higher Order Thinking in Mechatronics by Comparing PID and Fuzzy Control
    (Computers in Education Journal, 2019) Lowrance, Christopher J.; Rogers, John R.
    Many studies have found active learning, either in the form of in-class exercises or projects, to be superior to traditional lectures. However, these forms of hands-on learning do not always get students to reach the higher order thinking skills associated with the highest levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (i.e., analysis, synthesis, and evaluation). Assignments that expect students to take an expected approach to reach a well-defined solution contribute to a lack of higher order thinking at the college level. Professional engineers often face complex and ambiguous problems that require design decisions, where there is no straightforward answer. To strengthen the higher order thinking skills that these problems demand, we developed a project in our semester-long mechatronics course where students must evaluate two automatic control methodologies for an application without being given explicit performance criteria or experimental procedures. More specifically, the project involves determining the superior control method for leader-follower behavior in which a ground vehicle autonomously follows behind a lead vehicle. Laboratory exercises throughout the semester expose the students to the skills they need for the project: using sensors and actuators, programming a proportional-integral-derivative (PID) controller and a fuzzy controller, and using computer vision to detect the signature of an object. In the final course project, they go beyond implementing individual controllers and create their own evaluation criteria and experiments for making a design decision between PID and fuzzy control. We implemented this approach for three semesters, and our significant findings are: 1) students generally appreciate the aspect of working on a real-world and open-ended problem, 2) most teams developed creative performance criteria and methods for evaluating controller performance, clearly demonstrating higher order thinking, and 3) students discover that creating a comparative study is nontrivial due to the number of factors that influence performance, which mimics the practical problems they will likely face as engineers.
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    Relating Shared Leadership to Capstone Team Effectiveness
    (International Journal of Engineering Education, 2019) Novoselich, Brian J.; Knight, David B.
    Waning student engagement over the course of year-long capstone design projects may decrease team effectiveness and create challenges for capstone faculty advisors and student team leaders. Because leadership is an influence process, reframing how leadership is conceptualized for students may provide a tool that can bolster student effort and overall team effectiveness. Recent literature suggests that sharing leadership may be more effective than vertical leadership for complex design work, but little is known regarding shared leadership within the undergraduate engineering context. This study examined the relationship between shared leadership and team effectiveness for undergraduate mechanical engineering capstone design teams using an adaptation of the Full Range of Leadership model. Results indicated that the overall strength and a limited sharing of select team leadership behaviors relate to a team’s effectiveness through group process and individual satisfaction, but not task performance. This study provides capstone faculty with insights into effective leadership behaviors that may be encouraged within the capstone design experience.
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    Renewable Electrolysis in Texas: Pipelines versus Power Lines
    (H2@UT: Research and education to change the world, 2021) Rhodes, Joshua D.; Deetjen, Thomas A.; Hebner, Robert E.; Lewis, Michael C.; Bouwkamp, Nico; Weeks, Brian; Davidson, F. Todd; Lloyd, Alan C.
    Using wind and solar generation to power electrolysis facilities and produce “green” hydrogen at scale would require infrastructure investment. Using current technology, we identify at least one situation in which producing hydrogen at the point of electricity generation and transporting it to the point of use via pipeline costs about one third that of transmitting the electricity and generating hydrogen at the point of use. This raises the possibility that hydrogen pipelines might provide an alternative to high voltage transmission lines for connecting renewable generation with demand. In this white paper, we explore the tradeoffs of those two options.
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    Making Connections: Ensuring Strength of the Civil Engineering Curriculum
    (ASEE Conferences, 2022) Bruhl, Jakob C.
    A fundamental structural design philosophy is to make connections stronger than the elements they connect. The same must be true within engineering education: the connections between concepts and courses must be stronger (or at least as strong) as the content learned. Teachers are encouraged to create structure for new knowledge, sometimes referred to as scaffolding. This scaffolding, much like shoring for a reinforced concrete building, can only be safely removed when the knowledge structure created by the student has gained sufficient strength, including connection strength. An inability to recall previously learned knowledge is a symptom of an underlying problem: a lack of effective understanding of engineering concepts and principles to then see their application in a new context. In other words, the connections between concepts and applications are weak. To address this underlying problem, civil engineering students at the US Military Academy at West Point were required to solve review problems on each homework assignment in two civil engineering design courses. This paper describes the theoretical underpinnings of these assignments and their implementation. Assessment includes three semesters of academic performance, time spent outside of class, student feedback, and teacher observations.
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    Market Competitive Electrolysis in ERCOT
    (University of Texas, 2021) Deetjen, Thomas A.; Rhodes, Joshua D.; Hebner, Robert E.; Lewis, Michael C.; Davidson, F. Todd; Lloyd, Alan C.
    Across US and global markets, demand for hydrogen is increasing. Simultaneously, the cost of producing hydrogen via electrolysis using electricity is decreasing, creating new market opportunities for this low-carbon hydrogen production process. To assess this opportunity, three key cost factors for hydrogen production using an electrolyzer need to be considered: capital, operating, and electricity cost. Of these three, the electricity cost can be assumed to vary most widely by location due to local availability of generating sources and local market rate structures. Although conventional wisdom holds that electrolyzers can only operate profitably if given very low electricity prices, this paper highlights an existing electricity market where electrolysis could be an attractive and profitable option for hydrogen production today. Since electricity prices vary over time, an electrolysis facility can choose when and to what extent to adjust its hydrogen production to target lower electricity prices and consequently reduce its hydrogen production costs. This white paper uses historical electricity price data from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid that serves 90% of Texas, coupled with a basic techno-economic model of electrolysis to explore the costs and benefits of flexible electrolysis operation considering variable wholesale electricity prices. With strategic operating schedules, cost reductions, and efficiency improvements, electrolysis shows promise as a low-carbon, cross-sector, market competitive, and flexible source of hydrogen.
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    (24th Conference on Structural Mechanics in Reactor Technology, 2017) Varma, Amit; Kim, Joo Min; Seo, Jungil; Bruhl, Jakob C.
    Steel-plate composite (SC) walls are gaining momentum as an innovative system for design and construction of safety-related nuclear facilities due to their modularity and resistance to impactive and impulsive loading. Impactive design focuses on preventing perforation of the wall by the impacting missile. Once perforation has been prevented (through design), other local damage states such as punching shear failure, excessive deflection, and steel faceplate rupture need to be considered. Current approaches use single or two degree-of-freedom (SDOF or TDOF) models along with a static resistance function to estimate the maximum deflection and ductility demand on the wall if missile perforation is prevented. This paper focuses on numerically developing the static resistance function for SC walls, while simultaneously considering the ductility associated with local failure modes such as punching shear failure, flexural yielding followed by shear failure, and plastic mechanism formation. The paper details the development of 3D nonlinear finite element models of SC walls subjected to concentrated loading up to and beyond failure. The models account for various complexities of behavior including steel plate yielding and fracture, tie bar yielding and fracture, concrete cracking and crushing, and stud anchor slip capacity. The paper shows that for a given faceplate reinforcement ratio (4.3%), the local failure mode changes from punching shear failure to flexural yielding (followed by shear failure) to plastic mechanism formation as the tie bar (shear) reinforcement ratio increases (0.18 - 0.85%). The transitions in the local failure modes depend on the plastic strain demands and capacities in the components of the SC wall, namely, the steel plate, tie bar, and stud anchor. The paper identifies the future research path, and how the results can be used to design the preferred hierarchy of local failure modes.
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    Material Properties of the Grade 300 and Grade 270 Prestressing Strands and their Impact on the Design of Bridges
    (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2006) Hill, Aaron T.
    The primary objective of this thesis was to test the material properties of the new Grade 300, low-relaxation prestressing strand. The purpose of this testing was to verify the advertised breaking strengths and relaxation properties of the Grade 300 strand. Additional properties, such as yield strength, modulus of elasticity, and elongation, were also examined. Several tests were performed on each specific type of strand. For example, six tension and eight relaxation tests were performed on the Grade 300, 0.5 in. diameter, 0.153 square in. area strand. From the tests, it is concluded that the advertised breaking strengths and relaxation properties from Strand-Tech Martin, Inc. were accurate and meet the industry standards for low relaxation strand. The secondary objective of this project was to comment on the benefits of the Grade 300 strand as it pertains to the bridge industry. It was concluded from the tests that the Grade 300 strand had a 10 per cent larger 1 per cent elongation stress compared to the bridge industry standard Grade 270 strand. Furthermore, the amount of loss due to relaxation for the Grade 300 strand was comparative to that of the Grade 270 strand. While additional testing needs to be done to include stress-corrosion, transfer length, development length, and flexural strength, the completed testing indicates that less strand will be required using Grade 300 strand versus Grade 270 strand to achieve a set span length and transverse girder spacing. In addition, with the industry gradually progressing toward using higher strength concretes, longer span lengths and larger transverse girder spacing can be achieved by using the Grade 300 higher strength strand. The final objective of this testing was to examine the procedures and testing methods outlined by ASTM A416, Standard Specification for Steel Strand, Uncoated Seven-Wire for Prestressed Concrete (2005), ASTM E328, Standard Test Methods for Stress Relaxation for Materials and Structures (2002), and ASTM A370, Standard Test Methods and Definitions for Mechanical Testing of Steel Products (2005). The breaking strength and yield strength tables in ASTM A416 (2005) need to be updated with the new Grade 300 strand information. Based on this testing, ASTM should also remove the recommendation of simply using aluminum foil and Standard V-Grips to grip the strand. Even though the standard Grade 270 and Grade 300 regular diameter strand met the material property requirements when using aluminum foil as a cushioning material, none of these samples broke clearly within the gage length of the strand. Furthermore, all of the super area strand samples failed prematurely at the grips due to the notching effect of the V-grip teeth. Thus, an alternative method involving aluminum tubing, aluminum oxide, and epoxy were used to create a cushioning device between the V-grip and the strand in order to achieve the true ultimate breaking stress of the strand. Finally, ASTM should comment on the impact of test length on the total relaxation measurements. Three test lengths were evaluated during the 26 relaxation tests. As the test length increased, the total measured relaxation decreased. Losses due to chuck slip and frame settlement were negligible as the strand test length increased.
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    Influence of Plate Stiffener Geometry on LTB Capacity
    (Proceedings of the Annual Stability Conference Structural Stability Research Council, 2016) Chansuk, Piyachai; Freidenberg, Aaron; Quadrato, Craig; Rogers, Megan
    The standard analytical equations for elastic and inelastic lateral-torsional buckling assume a connection that permits rotation about the strong axis (as well as warping), but prevents twist about the longitudinal axis. The plate stiffener, commonly called a shear tab, is idealized as such a connection. In this paper, the influence of plate stiffener geometry on the lateral-torsional buckling capacities of various wide-flange beams is studied, using high-fidelity computer simulation. Preliminary results indicate that plate stiffener geometries have a significant effect on beam LTB capacity.
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    (2019 NDIA GROUND VEHICLE SYSTEMS ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY SYMPOSIUM, 2019) Cymerman, Joseph; Yim, Sang; Larkin, Dominic; Pegues, Kathryn; Gengler, Wyatt; Norman, Samuel; Maxwell, Zachary; Gasparri, Nicholas; Pollin, Mary; Calderon, Clement; Angle, Jeremy; Collier, Jaylen
    This paper presents the conceptual design, development, and implementation of the Robotic Technology Kernel (RTK) in a Polaris GEM e2 by the United States Military Academy's autonomy research team. RTK is the autonomous software suite of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicles Systems Center and to this point has primarily been used within off-road environments. The research team's primary objectives were to verify RTK's platform-agnostic characteristic by implementing the control software on a small, low-speed electric vehicle and augmenting the software to provide the additional capability of operating within an established infrastructure rule set.
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    Infrastructure and the Operational Art: A Handbook for Understanding, Visualizing, and Describing Infrastructure Systems
    (DTIC, 2014) Hart, Steven D.; Klosky, James Ledlie; Katalenich, Scott; Spittka, Berndt F.; Wright, Erik R.
    The Army's understanding of infrastructure as an operational variable has been evolving over the past 30 years in response to significant events ranging from international conflicts to domestic weather-related disasters. These experiences have combined to drive a significant shift in infrastructure doctrine, which now demands that commanders and staffs understand, visualize, and describe the infrastructure variable to accomplish the Army s assigned infrastructure missions of protecting, restoring, and developing infrastructure all missions essential to restoring stability after conflict or disaster. Current Army doctrine, however, does not say how commanders and staffs are to approach these challenging tasks. This report presents a cognitive framework for understanding, visualizing, and describing infrastructure by using five conceptual models created to allow commanders and staffs to think critically, creatively, and completely about infrastructure problems. The report also includes the scholarship behind the models including verification, validation, and certification as well as example applications of the models to actual situations. Infrastructure is a concern for both civil society and the military, and the models work equally well in both. The authors actively solicit feedback from any reader on the use, application, and improvement of these models.
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    Enhanced Sustainability Concrete Mixtures: Effects of Elevated Temperature Exposure on Changes in Microstructure and Elastic Properties and in Development of Modified Layered-Sectional Analysis for Forensic Investigation
    (North Carolina State University, 2011) McCoy, Brad C.
    Part I of this report discusses the findings of an investigation of the relationships between changes in microstructure and elastic properties of lightweight and conventional, enhanced sustainability concrete (ESC) mixtures resulting from elevated temperature exposure. The shear modulus (G) and dynamic elastic (Young’s) modulus (Ed) was determined from resonant frequency of nominal 25 mm (1 in.) thick by 100 mm (4 in.) diameter disk specimens, tested wet and dry, before and after exposure to 150 C (300 F) and 300 C (570 F). The crack densities () before and after exposure were estimated from wet and dry G values of the disk. A critical finding was that the relationship between initial crack density and changes in crack density were similar regardless of the fly ash content implying that ESC mixtures can be used similarly to conventional mixtures in elements exposed to elevated temperatures. This study confirmed the well-established effects of strength on damaged concrete members due to elevated temperature exposures and found statistically significant differences between changes in crack density of mixtures containing fly ash and those containing slag cement. Part II of this report describes the development of a modified layered-sectional analysis (MLSA) providing the engineer with a tool to assess structural behavior of concrete beams with localized damage, a problem not well suited to classical, closed form solutions. The MLSA framework was then used to examine how concrete materials with enhanced sustainability would perform in service after damage associated with a short intense fire. The elastic (Young’s) modulus of the ESC mixtures was determined in a companion study for undamaged and damaged conditions before and after exposure to 300 C. The elastic properties were incorporated into the MLSA, which predicted satisfactory structural performance of the evaluated ESC beams with localized damage due to fire.
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    Constitutive Modeling and Validation of Sintered Metal Powders Subjected to Large Strains and High Strain Rates
    (American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2021-11-01) West, Ashby; Venable, Garrett; Flanagan, Michael; Harris, Evan; Davis, Brad G.; Davidson, F. Todd; Hanus, Joseph P.
    The development of advanced small caliber weapon systems has resulted in rounds with more material penetration capabilities. The increased capabilities may mean that existing live-fire facilities will no longer be adequate for the training and certification of military and law enforcement personnel, which could result in training constraints and possibly expensive upgrades to improve the safety of existing facilities. New training ammunition manufactured from novel structural materials are needed to allow for the safe, continued use of live-fire shoot house facilities. The goal of this project is to characterize a sintered metal powder and fit a suitable constitutive model for simulation in support of numerical design. A pressed and sintered blend of copper-tin was selected as a suitable representative material for this application. Samples were tested in uniaxial compression under quasi-static conditions and elevated temperatures. Dynamic compression testing at strain rates up to approximately 105 s−1 was conducted using a split-Hopkinson bar. The results of these tests were then used to fit Johnson-Cook and Zerilli-Armstrong strength models to the test data. The models were fit by selecting points from test data at different strain rates and elevated temperatures. This system of equations was then solved for each model while using the same test data to ensure a fair comparison of the results. A Mie-Gruneisen equation of state for the material was estimated using a rule of mixtures and existing shock and particle velocity data. Taylor cylinder tests were conducted and the rate of change in length was measured using high-speed video. Simulation of the Taylor tests was conducted using the developed strength and equation of state model and compared to the experimental results for model validation and comparison. Both the Johnson-Cook and Zerilli-Armstrong models resulted in less than 1% error of the Taylor cylinder results before material fracture. Further development of a fracture model for this material is recommended for use in high strain rate modeling applications.
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    Assessing the Impact of New Teaching Methods by Predicting Student Performance
    (ASEE, 2008) Bruhl, Jakob C.; Bristow, Elizabeth; Klosky, James Ledlie
    Many teachers try new things in the classroom with the intent of making learning more effective. In most cases, assessment of the impact is anecdotal; the teacher surveys the students about the new technique and draws conclusions based on their feedback. In order to more definitively prove the impact, better assessment tools are needed. In a recent study, the authors attempted to predict performance in a course and then measure the improvement due to a major change in the available resources for study outside the classroom in our fundamentals of engineering course. To measure the effectiveness, we used the GPA of the students at the start of the semester to predict their performance in the course. We then assessed the impact by comparing actual grades in the course to the predicted grades. Using historical data as a baseline, we thus conclude with some certainty the amount of impact our change made in academic performance. This paper focuses on the method of assessment and measurement rather than the classroom changes.
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    Can It Work for Us Too? Results from Using West Point’s Fundamentals of Engineering Mechanics and Design Course Redesign.
    (ASEE, 2018) Hamilton, Scott; Bruhl, Jakob C.; Wyrick, Joshua
    At the 2017 ASEE National Conference and Exhibition two papers from the US Military Academy (one in the Mechanics Division and one in the Civil Engineering Division) detailed a redesign of their initial mechanics sequence and the introduction of Inquiry Based Learning Activities. The authors of those papers extended an offer to share details and materials of their course redesign and associated lesson activities. The authors of this paper took them up on that offer and in the Fall of 2017 implemented the changes proposed at the US Military Academy at York College of Pennsylvania. The question this paper strives to answer is, can a similar course redesign produce similar results at an institution, that in many respects is very different from the US Military Academy; essentially is the West Point redesign reproducible and the results replicable and if so under what conditions? This paper will strive to use many of the same measures from the original paper in the analysis of the success or failure of the implementation. The paper will also examine and document the differences between the students and institutions. It will then note differences in the administration of the course, changes made, and conduct of the course, to include number of instructors, sections, section size, group size and the demographic make-up of students in the course and list the effect of the differences discovered at this time. Finally, considering differences and similarities, the paper will analyze and capture the results and the effects of the two applications of the course redesign to come up with an answer to the research question.
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    An Investigation of Search Algorithms for Aerial Reconnaissance of an Area Target
    (Society for Industrial and Systems Engineering, 2022-12-25) Blakenship, Rory; Bluman, James E.; Steckenrider, J. Josiah
    As drone technology becomes increasingly accessible in commercial and defense sectors, it is important to establish efficient ways of employing the technology to leverage its inherent advantages. In the context of a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) attack, an unmanned aerial system (UAS) can provide an understanding of the area affected by contaminants in a faster and safer way than a manned reconnaissance mission. Commonly used deterministic paths provide comprehensive coverage but they can require a substantial amount of time to reach each sector within a search space. The recently proposed Lissajous search pattern provides easily tunable parameters that can be adjusted according to the search space and anticipated size of the target. This paper provides an evaluation of Lissajous patterns against canonical search patterns and investigates ways of maximizing their efficiency for various target sizes.
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    Analyzing Multidisciplinary Team Effectiveness in an Engineering Environment: A Case Study of the West Point Steel Bridge Design
    (ASEE, 2018) Etringer, John; O'Brien, Stephen; Updegraff, Austin; Langerhans, Timothy; Nadjari, Andrew; Kim, Chan; Hill, Aaron T.; Campbell, Michael
    The West Point Steel Bridge Design Team is a group of five undergraduate seniors working to design and build a steel bridge for the annual ASCE Steel Bridge Competition. The purpose of our group’s research is to discover how multidisciplinary teams perform in academically competitive environments. This project provides a unique opportunity in the field of multidisciplinary collaborative work because the team’s success can be objectively measured against this year’s competitors and the team’s performance in previous years. The traditional structure of the West Point team consisted of three-to-five civil engineering majors. This year’s team includes a law and legal studies major and five civil engineers, two of which recently switched from systems engineering. Past designs have relied heavily on the work of previous years, which has led to stagnant performance at competitions. Our hypothesis is that by entering different perspectives into the group at an early stage, a revolutionary approach will ensue and overall performance will increase. The team did not completely disregard the designs and methods of previous teams, but the reliance on their decision-making process was more heavily scrutinized with the current multidisciplinary team. Our research is not solely limited to competitive performance. We also analyzed the decision-making process of this year’s team in comparison to previous years. While data on decision-making is not readily available, both the faculty advisor and two current team members who served on the team last year were able to provide personal insight into how the teams compare. Ultimately, this research seeks to provide groups in similar academically competitive environments an indication of whether a multidisciplinary composition will provide benefit to their team’s performance.