University of Cincinnati
Navigation bar
Aerospace Eminent Scholar Has Broad-Reaching Plans
From: University Currents
Date: March 10, 2000
By: Chris Curran
Phone: (513) 556-1806
Archive: Campus News, Research News

It doesn't matter if the problem is oil well drilling, advanced propulsion systems, or noisy jet engines, UC's newest eminent scholar has an idea and probably a patent or two which can help. Professor Ephraim Gutmark brought a wide range of research interests when he joined the faculty in aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics this quarter.

image of Gutmark

Gutmark is a native of Israel who decided to remain in this country after a long stint as a consultant and senior research scientist at the Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, California.

"They invited me to work with them on the development of propulsion systems for missiles such as ramjets and rockets while I was a visiting professor at the University of Southern California. "I would return to Israel, but they kept inviting me back every year to work with them. Eventually, they asked me to stay."

So he did, until 1995 when he accepted a position at Louisiana State University where Gutmark developed an aerospace engineering research program within the department of mechanical engineering. That varied background has allowed Gutmark to explore a number of different problems. The ramjet work, for example, focuses on a frustrating dilemma: how to make the engine efficient enough to work at high speeds without being "too efficient" for its own good.

"It's very difficult to get good mixing between the fuel and the air and complete combustion in a short combustor," explained Gutmark. "but when you make it very efficient, you get a phenomenon called 'combustion instability.' You have to be careful not to destroy it."

Picture the difference between a gallon of gasoline burning in your car's engine and another gallon of gasoline burning in the open air. In short, that's the difference between proper mixing and uncontrolled combustion.

Gutmark is also interested in the forces that affect high- performance aircraft flying at extreme angles. These types of maneuvers are important in military attacks and defense, and Gutmark is looking forward to the opportunity to collaborate with UC researchers like Kirti and Urmilla Ghia who have also done work in the area. "This was a good match, because faculty at UC are working in areas I was interested in."

While at LSU, Gutmark expanded his research interests into the field of oil-well drilling. It turned out that a patent he held in the area of propuolsion had applications well outside of aerospace. Halliburton, Inc. of Texas is now preparing for field tests using the new technology. "This potentially can accelerate the rate of drilling and save millions of dollars by shortening the time it takes to reach oil," said Gutmark.

Another invention, developed with a collaborator at the University of Arizona, is also on the verge of commercialization. Gutmark and Israel Wygnanski came up with an elegant solution to the problem of jet engine noise. Gutmark was subsequently awarded a large program in noise reduction from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

"We put flexible filaments in the exhaust of the engine. It's a very easy change," said Gutmark, who added that the technology will undergo testing in a commercial jet engine this summer. Gutmark has 25 patents in all.

With his recent move to Cincinnati, Gutmark believes he will find many other projects to interest him as well. "Ohio has a lot of opportunity for the aerospace industry ... GE, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, NASA-Glenn. The state really encourages aerospace applications in research. It was a tremendous opportunity for me."

Those are opportunities he wants to share with undergraduate engineers as well as graduate students. At LSU, he had as many as 15 undergraduates working in his lab at any one time, and Gutmark was named the department's outstanding teacher year after year.

"Teaching, in a university, is the most important thing," said Gutmark, emphasizing his commitment in the classroom as well as in the lab.

Gutmark's family shares his scientific and educational interestsand rival his achievements. His wife Laura is a teacher at University High School in Baton Rouge. His oldest daughter Julie is in her third year of medical school at Johns Hopkins. Another daughter, Iris, is finishing work in LSU's Honors College, and his son Ron is completing high school.