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Capital University News, California State University, Sacramento
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.
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
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
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
“You use these models to prevent systems from operating at a dangerous
level. Our work helps generate the models more quickly and easily,” Granda
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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