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Supporting transatlantic partnerships around research and higher education.

PUF Takes On Aerospace

The fields of aerospace and fluid mechanics are a natural pair with unlimited potential. While aerospace addresses aviation and space flight, fluid mechanics describes the macroscopic motion of fluids according to the fundamental laws of classical physics and thermodynamics.

A Dual Master’s program in Aerospace Engineering Aeronautics or Fluid Mechanics has led researchers and students to plunge ahead into uncharted territory. A PUF partnership, the program, which is taught in english, was spearheaded by French professor Patrick Huerre (Ecole Polytechnique) and American professor Guruswami Ravichandran (Caltech). It offers multiple unprecedented opportunities in the key area of SPACE research, including integrated international exchanges and research partnerships with top-notch French labs.

Over the three-year period of PUF funding, seven students from the two institutions participated in the program. It has allowed these students to acquire complementary skill sets through courses and internships. EP students were exposed to hands-on experimentation and project-oriented classes that Caltech offers while Caltech students were introduced to EP’s high-level abstract thinking and a mathematically rigorous approach to solving problems in fluid dynamics. It is expected that the integrated internationally-minded academic approach will lead to novel research in the areas of wind energy and flow control.

Demonstrating the lasting quality of PUF partnerships, enrollment in the Caltech-EP Dual Master’s program increased by 50% over the course of PUF funding. Such a cooperative effort has resulted in extraordinary graduate research projects and co-advising of Ph.D. students by the two partner institutions in collaboration with associated research institutions such as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) or the Office National d’Etudes et de Recherches Aérospatiales (ONERA).

In 2013, the collaboration was broadened to also include aerospace engineering, computational mathematics and aeronautical sciences, and Caltech and EP have defined a similar joint curriculum in Solid Mechanics based on the success of the program. Recently, the entire Master’s Program in Mechanics at Ecole Polytechnique was remodeled to be taught in English to attract more international students.

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