Undergrad destined for success
If there were a race for scholarships Destiny Fawley would have just won a triple crown. The aerospace engineering student from Bloomington, Illinois, who will be a junior this fall at the University of Illinois, received three scholarships:
- The David and Catherine Thompson Space Technology Scholarship from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
- A Central Illinois resident scholarship from the Society of Women Engineers (Central Illinois Section Scholarship) https://scholarships.swe.org/applications/login.asp
- A General James H. Doolittle Scholarship from the Communities Foundation of Texas
Fawley already has an impressive research resume. As a freshman she worked with a graduate student in Assistant Professor Zach Putnam’s research group. The research she helped with in entry, descent, and landing (EDL) technology seeks to determine the optimal atmospheric entry conditions and control in the hypersonic phase to best prepare the vehicle for supersonic retropropulsion when it reaches Mach 2 when landing on Mars.
During the summer after her freshman year, Fawley was an intern at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
“I researched parachute systems in a low-density, supersonic environment,” Fawley said. “My work involved analyzing inflation loads for wind tunnel tests and a sounding rocket test by applying an apparent mass model and examining inflation symmetry. I asked to continue the work through the school year from campus, and I was able to extend the research throughout the fall semester with my mentor’s approval.”
As a sophomore, Fawley continued in Putnam’s research group with aerocapture work simulating day-of-flight uncertainties for the atmospheric pass to get the worst-case performance.
“Through this work I learned how to perform a Monte-Carlo uncertainty analysis for various atmospheric conditions,” Fawley said. “One of my research goals is to better understand the behavior of parachutes in supersonic flow. Current models that extend subsonic results to supersonic environments do not accurately predict parachute behavior. Actual testing has shown that the canopies cannot withstand the magnitude of loads that were previously thought to be safe. I would like to determine why parachutes fail in that environment and find a safety margin that will work for all possible deployment conditions.”
Fawley already has clear career goals and a focused path to reach them.
In her junior and senior year at Illinois she plans to take classes in fluid flow and aerodynamics, including compressible flow, incompressible flow, computational aerodynamics, and aerospace systems design. She also wants to begin taking graduate level courses in advanced gas dynamics and optimal space trajectories.
“These classes will provide a strong background in orbital mechanics and fluid flow that are necessary when analyzing supersonic decelerators,” Fawley said. “This work also requires strong image processing skills because the inflation profile is recorded solely by cameras. I will continue learning image processing through undergraduate research and take related classes that could help track points in the canopy.”