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Schmidt Wins Teetor Award

The 90,000-member Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has just named David Schmidt of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department as the 2009 recipient of the Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, which is focused on exceptional younger engineering educators. Schmidt's honor makes it the second year in a row that a professor from the university's Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department has won the Teetor Award.The 2008 recipient was Professor Robert Hyers.

"The current decade places greater expectations upon the colleges and universities of the world to educate individuals who must successfully meet the challenges that face society," says the SAE about the award, established in 1953. "The purpose of the Teetor Award is to recognize and honor those younger educators who are successfully preparing engineers for this task."

Professor Schmidt's involvement in the annual SAE collegiate supermileage competition and his research related to many SAE interests, which now span the range of "mobility" engineering including the aerospace industry, made him a perfect candidate for the Teetor Award.

"The SAE chapter and the UMass Supermileage vehicle both provide wonderfully broad learning opportunities for the students," said Schmidt. "Our raison d’être is to integrate the science with the practice of engineering. We have a good program here, and I am grateful for SAE's external recognition."

Schmidt's areas of research include sprays, cavitation, and other multiphase flows. Sprays are especially important for combustion. For diesel and jet engines, the spray quality also has a tremendous impact on emissions. Schmidt also simulates sprays in rockets, in which engineers have great difficulty predicting and controlling the combustion process.

For example, Professors Schmidt and Phillip R. Westmoreland, Chemical Engineering Department, recently received a prestigious $1-million Department of Defense grant to boost the safety and performance of fuel used in thousands of satellites, space vehicles, rockets, and missiles. They are studying the spray and combustion of gelled hypergolic propellants. A hypergolic propellant system is formed from a fuel and an oxidizer that ignite spontaneously when mixed so there is no need of an ignition mechanism in order to bring about combustion.

"Power is fundamental to the existence of modern society," says Schmidt. "However, the environmental consequences of our current methods of power generation are unsustainable. I seek to improve the performance and reduce the emissions of modern power systems by better understanding of the fuel/air mixing."

The engineers, business executives, educators, and students in SAE International come from more than 97 countries. SAE’s purpose is to share information and exchange ideas for advancing the engineering of mobility systems. One objective of the Teetor program is to provide an engineering atmosphere in which young teachers can meet and exchange views with practicing engineers. (January 2009)