MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. - 23 January 12
Kathleen Riesing: Intern Researches Rotorcraft Green Aviation
Heather L. Ogletree
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden once said, “Tilt Rotor Aviation is going to revolutionize a lot of the things we do. ”Imagine being able to take a flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco without having to go through the long drive, long lines, and chaotic environment that is LAX. With tilt rotorcraft aviation, this would be possible. Tilt rotorcraft function like helicopters on take-off and as a jet in the air, thus, mitigating the environmental effects of the increasing demand for air travel and transport and the congestion on crowded airport runways while making air travel more convenient as well as environmentally friendly.
This summer, Undergraduate Student Research Program (USRP) intern Kathleen Riesing joined NASA mentors William Warmbrodt and Tom Norman at Ames Research Center to take part in the groundbreaking research on tilt rotorcraft aviation.
When she accepted her internship offer, Riesing, an aerospace engineering student at Princeton University, had no idea what a tilt rotorcraft was. She said, “The most challenging part of my internship...was getting up to speed on the project. I didn’t have a background in rotorcraft research before coming here, so I had to put effort into learning about rotorcraft and understanding my project and the work that has been done on it.” Although she was a little overwhelmed at first, with time she adapted and became comfortable being a part of the team.
While at Ames, Warmbrodt had Riesing help analyze data from a test conducted on U.S. Army UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter rotor in the world’s largest wind tunnel, or NFAC, last year. She explained, “This was a full-scale test of a UH-60A rotor so the data serves two important functions. First, it provides an array of data over a wide range of test conditions that will be very important for development of next generation rotorcraft. Second, it compliments a small-scale test completed in 1989 in the DNW and an in-flight test by NASA/Army in 1993, so the data allows comparison between small-scale wind tunnel testing , full-scale wind tunnel testing, and in-flight testing.” Meaning, Riesing had a wealth of information to analyze which she described as “staggering.”
Fortunately, her project focused on “examining the data for the blade root position to know the orientation of each blade at each point during the test,” and she felt it was “rewarding” to be able to contribute to analyzing a small part of it. She said, “The opportunity to assist in data analysis on this project has been incredible, and I really feel like I am a part of a greater effort with strong momentum behind it.”
Moving forward, Riesing has definitely caught the rotorcraft bug, and when graduates she intends to pursue a masters and a PhD in aerospace engineering. She concluded, “This summer at NASA has really opened doors for me, and I’m definitely considering rotorcraft as a potential career field.”