Studying with UCD Mechanical & Materials Engineering - Stephanie Olsen

My name is Stephanie Olson and I am currently a third year Mechanical Engineering student at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois. I was fortunate enough to study abroad at UCD during the 2018 Spring term and stay on for the summer to participate in an 8-week research project with Dr. Philip Cardiff.

Dr. Cardiff has been working on a research project focused on computational modeling and simulation using a free, open-source software called OpenFOAM (Open source Field Operation and Manipulation). Currently in industry, the evaluation of solid and fluid mechanics are done separately. The goal of this research is to be able to create simulations that can be used to evaluate fluid and solid mechanics at the same time.

I began the summer with no previous knowledge of OpenFOAM or Computational Continuum Mechanics. Dr. Cardiff provided tutorials and literature regarding the software and fluid solid interaction along with weekly check-ins and an open door for questions. There was also a Graduate student that was working within the same project. He was a great resource for questions and I was able to learn even more by listening to the walk through of his more advanced project. My project goal was to create a working simulation of a system of my choosing, which was to be airflow over the wing of a glider aircraft. First, I had to become familiar with the software I was to be using. I was provided with excellent tutorials that put me through a crash course to gain a working knowledge of OpenFOAM. The next step was to find a 3D body to import into the software. I was able to find a pre-designed wing that only needed minor adjusting for my purposes. From there it was a matter of creating a system around that body in order to run the simulation. It took me a few weeks to get the simulation to run correctly every time. The payoff of having those weeks of work come together into a functioning simulation was well worth the additional time at UCD!

This research project provided me with an amazing opportunity to learn a software and application that I may not have learned otherwise; and that could be incredibly beneficial within my career. Dr. Cardiff was a wonderful professor to work with on this project and I am very fortunate that I was offered this opportunity. UCD is a fantastic school to attend for study abroad and I am so happy that I was able to have this experience!