Jake Nelson

GS:    Where are you from?
JN: Huntsville, AL
GS:  What degree did you receive and when?
JN: BSME (Spring 2010) and  MSME (Fall 2012)
GS: How long have you been at UAB?
JN: Since Fall 2006.  I did all my undergraduate studies at UAB as well as my graduate studies.
GS:  What is your research?
JN: My research is in the area of computational fluid dynamics (CFD).  CFD is used to simulate fluid flow through a domain with given boundary conditions.  For my Master’s thesis I have implemented a numerical scheme that allows for simulations to be more accurate.  Specifically, simulations can be formed with third order spatial accuracy.  My academic advisor, Dr. Roy Koomullil, has a flow solver of second order spatial accuracy.  This increase in accuracy will allow for simulations to be formed involving more complex flow fields around complex geometries.
GS: Why did you choose UAB for your graduate studies?
JN: During my undergraduate studies at UAB I participated in a research program in which I began to study CFD.  I was then offered a research fellowship to further my research in this area.
GS: Have you received any awards or honors?

I have received the following awards and honors:           

  • Barker Award – master’s level
  • NSF Graduate Research Honorable mention
  • Graduate Research Fellowship
  • Phi Kappa Phi
  • Undergraduate Honors Research Program
  • Pi Tau Sigma
  • University Scholar Academic Scholarship
GS: What has been your most rewarding experience at UAB?
JN: My involvement in the Undergraduate Honors Research Program was very rewarding and paved the way for a continuation of my academic studies.  During my involvement in this program I was able to work with a team of professors from UAB’s mechanical engineering department as well as the medical school.  This multidisciplinary project involved simulating the fluid flow through the nasal airways of patients who suffered from sleep apnea.  These patients had undergone a surgery called maxillomandibular mdvancement and one of the goals of this project was to assess the effectiveness of this surgery through the use of CFD analysis.  I was able to use my advisor’s (Dr. Koomullil) flow solver (HYB3D) to form a pre-operational simulation as well as a post-operational simulation for each patient.  I then analyzed the results of each simulation and compiled the pertinent information.  Through this experience I was able to perform most of the steps in the CFD process and gain a knowledge base that would prove to be extremely valuable in my graduate studies.
GS:  Who was your greatest influence here at UAB and why?
JN:  Dr. Roy Koomullil has been the greatest influence during my time at UAB.  I started doing CFD research under his guidance during my undergraduate studies.  Dr. Koomullil was also my academic advisor and committee chair during my Master’s studies.  I am very grateful for the effort he has put forth in teaching me over the past few years.
GS: What is your motivation in your academics/research?
JN: The purpose of my Master’s thesis is to allow for CFD simulations to be formed for complex flows around complex geometries.  A complex flow field requires a higher-order spatial accuracy in order for full resolution of that flow field.  Examples of complex flow fields include flapping wings, turbo-machineries, and transition to turbulence.  The third order accurate scheme I have implemented will increase the complexity range of flow fields that the HYB3D solver can be applied.
GS:   What are your plans for the future?
JN:  I started working for Hubbell Power Systems in August 2012 with the position of New Product Engineer.  This position involves the design and optimization of products produced by Hubbell Power Systems and managing each stage of project development, from idea development to mass production.  The types of products I work on are connecting units used for power lines.
GS: Is there anything else you would like to say?
JN: I would like to thank Dr. Koomullil and the Mechanical Engineering Department for the help I received during my time at UAB.
Jake’s Advice for Other Graduate Students
If possible, it is best to get involved with research areas and projects that genuinely interest you and areas that you believe in the final value of the research.  This can make it easier to buckle down when the going gets tough.