Kelly Hutchins
Kelley Hutchins was selected to receive the prestigious NASA Harriett G. Jenkins Graduate Fellowship.

Ninety-five percent of Kelley Hutchins' current research is done using computer simulations. This upcoming year the aerospace engineering PhD student will have the opportunity to see her work incorporated into a flexible wing aircraft program at Edwards Air Force base due to her acceptance into the highly competitive NASA Harriett G. Jenkins Graduate Fellowship Program.

The NASA program aims to increase underrepresented groups, including women, ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities majoring in a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) discipline. Renewable for up to three years, the $45,000 annual fellowship includes tuition offset, a student stipend, and a 10-week NASA center research internship.

On her fellowship proposal, Hutchins collaborated with NASA engineer and mentor, Dr. Chan Gi-Pak, who works with the structural dynamics group at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. Hutchins' research proposal "Active/Adaptive Flexible Motion Controls with Aeroservoelastic System Uncertainties," was accepted by her mentor and after final review by a NASA committee, she was selected to receive the fellowship.

"Finding out I received the fellowship is a satisfying and secure feeling because I know that I have a solid project I will be working on that is being funded by NASA, " Hutchins said.

Hutchins is working on her dissertation research under the supervision of ASE/EM professor Maruthi Akella. Her dissertation focuses on control design for aerospace systems through the technique of on-line system identification, including the flexible wing aircraft that lies at the heart of the fellowship proposal.

"It is difficult to control and manage flexible aircrafts when they are in flight, so this project is looking at the best way to control flexible-wing aircraft so that we can safely use them across a wide range of flight conditions," Hutchins said.

Through the fellowship Hutchins will travel to Edwards Air Force Base in California where her work will be applied to the X-56A test aircraft.

With her work, Hutchins will attempt to address how to control a flexible wing aircraft while it is flying at various speeds ranging from subsonic to supersonic. In particular her work will address the flutter instability issue, a potentially destructive vibration that occurs due to rapid changes in the aerodynamic parameters.

After graduating Hutchins hopes to work for the government or industry sector of the aerospace field in a research capacity.