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Capital University News, California State University, Sacramento

February 11, 2004

Prof, students building NASA ties

A CSUS professor and his students are hoping their computer simulation expertise will lead to a lasting relationship with NASA.

Computer simulation of morphing airplane.
Computer simulation of morphing airplane.

Already, mechanical engineering professor Jose Granda has spent two summers as a faculty fellow research scholar at NASA’s Langley Research Center, sharing how his CAMP-G software can help with its computer simulations for Space Shuttle missions to the International Space Station. His students have expanded on his work during the school year, working with Granda to create three-dimensional animations of the equations and charts.

Now, Granda hopes to get involved with NASA’s “morphing” research, an effort to create the next generation of airplanes and other breakthrough products.

As envisioned, morphing airplanes would have new technology that acts much like skin and bone. Scientists involved with the project are using birds and insects as their models, with the goal of building wings that bend and twist so the airplane can fly fast or slow, or even hover.

That fits perfectly with the sort of work Granda and his students do – quickly testing various movements of aircraft, spacecraft and other vehicles. One student, for instance, interned with Disney and now has a tentative job offer to test the company’s ride designs after graduation. Two other students are applying to NASA to work this summer, and students in a dynamics of machinery class have developed prototypes of mechanisms to allow future airplanes to flex their wings.

At the heart of their work is the CAMP-G software that Granda has designed and improved over the last 20 years.

The software automatically generates engineering ideas directly into computer code, saving hours of work. That code can then be used for various types of advanced simulation software.

“You use these models to prevent systems from operating at a dangerous level. Our work helps generate the models more quickly and easily,” Granda says.

The 3-D modeling component is an added benefit. “It can be hard for the engineers to envision when they just have a piece of paper with a list of calculations,” he says. “There can be too many variables. So it helps to actually see the object moving, and make adjustments from there.”

Granda is preparing two proposals for NASA grant funding that would support campus-based research. He’s also brought NASA teleconferences to campus, and hopes to take a student with him for a planned third summer as a NASA researcher. NASA has recognized Granda’s work by selecting him to represent the materials and structures competency in a national research competition.

More on Granda’s work is at http://gaia.ecs.csus.edu/~grandajj. For more on NASA’s morphing research, visit http://science.nasa.gov and search for “morphing.”

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California State University, Sacramento • Public Affairs
6000 J Street • Sacramento, CA 95819-6026 • (916) 278-6156 • infodesk@csus.edu
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California State University, Sacramento • Public Affairs
6000 J Street • Sacramento, CA 95819-6026 • (916) 278-6156 • infodesk@csus.edu