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ARC’s “special” formula for success

A student explains a project that uses a small wind tunnel
Leon "Trey" Brown III explains a wind tunnel project in the Computational Aerodynamics and Flow Physics Lab

Kids dream of what they could be in life; a veterinarian, doctor, firefighter or even a pilot. Those who dreamed of flying and wanted to discover what is held beyond, are fascinated by aerospace. Many of those kids ended up here, the Aerospace Reseach Center (ARC) at The Ohio State University.

ARC was established in 2013 and has since become a thriving community of faculty, staff and students that have a strong, interconnected working relationship with one another. The center is located on the campus of the university airport, its cutting-edge facilities tucked into a humble building with a home-away-from-home feel.

The research conducted within the multi-laboratory center focuses on aerospace technology. Principal investigators partner with industry, government labs and other organizations  throughout the world to address current and future air transportation challenges. Research findings fuel efficiency and are often used to inform policymakers of the safety of new technological advances. In addition to faculty and staff, researchers include over 45 graduate students and 10 undergraduates.

What makes it “special”

With pieces and parts that belonged to different past revolutionary experiments, upon entering ARC visitors become transported to another universe. The feeling of getting lost in a sense of discovery and knowledge is what makes ARC a “special place”.

Professor Mo Samimy, founder of ARC, served as director for four years, and now continues his experimental work as a faculty emeritus. Samimy is passionate about ARC and the opportunities it brings to students.

Three people look at an array of computer monitors in a lab
Left to right: Professor Emeritus Mo Samimy looks on as students Andrew Mills and Abhi Yarlagadda work in the Gas Dynamics and Turbulence Laboratory

“This center is by far the most important place in the country, as far as experimental facilities are concerned,” Samimy stated. “What we have at this center you cannot find at any other place. That was my real attraction to Ohio State.”

It is apparent that more than just Samimy finds attraction to ARC. He also noted how students become so involved that they spend days, nights and sometimes weekends working on their projects.

Interim Director Jim Lawson recognizes that ARC is more than just a research center. What really drew him to this place was the people.

“Our faculty are all recognized leaders in their fields, who excel at sharing their knowledge with the students,” Lawson said. “Our staff does an exceptional job supporting all of our research projects as well as supporting the education of our students, and our students are second to none.”

Throughout ARC there are multiple laboratories focusing on various aspects of air transportation challenges, but it doesn’t stop staff and students from engaging and collaborating across these groups. This supports the community feel that the team works hard to uphold.

Ryan Leahy, who just graduated with a masters degree in mechanical engineering, was immediately drawn to ARC based on how aerospace has always fascinated him.

A student picks up a tray of dust particulate samples in the Turbine Aerothermodynamics Laboratory
Student Nathanael Wendel displays particulate samples in the Turbine Aerothermodynamics Laboratory

Leahy noted that research at ARC is “the opportunity to be at the forefront of innovation and groundbreaking stuff that can be put into aircraft someday.”

Another former student, and now research scientist, Nathan Webb, has been at ARC since 2008. He said what drew him to ARC in the first place was Samimy. Webb’s vision is to motivate students to solve problems that have never been answered before and to systematically approach the problem they need to solve.

Webb shared that ARC is special to him because of the “multigenerational research pipeline. There is such a diversity of expertise, it is really a joy to be there and be able to bounce ideas off of each other.”

The center’s leadership fosters a culture of learning and innovation. This, combined with the world-renowned research that is conducted at this facility, produces a formula that just has students wanting to come back for more.

If you are a prospective aerospace or mechanical engineering student seeking a place to get lost in a world of curiosity, where you can advance air transportation technology, ARC could be a “special place” for you too. Learn more about opportunities by clicking here.

A student looks at an experimental setup in the Large Rotating Facility in the Gas Turbine Lab
Staff and student Chris Keener with an experimental setup in the  Gas Turbine Lab's Large Rotating Facility

by Josie DeCaro, professional writing intern


Five people standing in a lab in front of drones
Members of the Aerodynamic Flow Control and Diagnostics Group, left to right: Dhuree Seth, Sage Herz, Assistant Professor Matthew McCrink, Isaac Bensignor and Ross Heidersbach