The magazine of the Case Alumni Association
at the Case School of Engineering


Hypersonic research

From his Case lab, alumnus will help the nation prepare a new defense.

As Russia, China and other nations develop super-fast, super agile hypersonic missiles, defending against such weapons—counter hypersonics—takes on new urgency. The U.S. Armed Forces thinks a Case researcher can help.

Bryan Schmidt ’11, PhD, an Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has received two awards that will fund first-of-their-kind hypersonic flight experiments. 

With funding from the Office of Naval Research’s Young Investigator Program and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research’s Defense University Research Instrumentation Program, Schmidt and his lab will seek to understand what happens when something hits the water at very high speeds.

The project is expected to have important implications for defense against hypersonic missiles, which can travel five times faster than the speed of sound.

“I’m really excited about this project,” Schmidt said in a university press release. “This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a couple years now.” 

Schmidt earned his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at Case and his advanced degrees from California Institute of Technology. He returned to campus in 2020 and joined the department he graduated from.

His research focuses on turbulent and unsteady air flows using advanced imaging methods. For the Navy and Air Force projects, he will build a facility capable of launching models at about 10,000 mph into water, then record the reactions with a super high-speed camera–something that has not been done before. 

Schmidt thinks the impacts will produce interesting reactions, including sonoluminescence—high-energy acoustic waves that emit light.

As he helps the nation prepare for the hypersonic age, he’ll no doubt have interesting observations to share with students in his thermodynamics classes.

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