Two aeronautical engineering students shared first place in the 2018 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Multidisciplinary Design Optimization student paper competition. Graduate students Jared Crean and Alp Dener tied for first place and were each awarded $1,500.

The winners were announced at the 2018 AIAA Aviation Forum, which took place in Atlanta, Georgia, June 25-29. The competition was administered by the Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO) Technical Committee of the AIAA and sponsored by the NASA Glenn Research Center.

Finalists were judged based on their paper as well as a 20-minute oral presentation given at the conference. Judges also assessed the originality of the work and its importance to the field.

Both Crean and Dener performed their research in the lab of Jason Hicken, associate professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering. Hicken is director of the Optimal Design Lab, which seeks to improve the design process of complex engineering systems. The lab’s research focus is partial-differential-equation (PDE)-governed design optimization: the synthesis of high-fidelity numerical simulations, computational geometry, and optimization algorithms.

Dener earned his doctorate at Rensselaer in December 2017 and is pursuing postdoctoral research at the Argonne National Laboratory. Crean continues his studies at Rensselaer.

“This year’s competition was very tough, with many excellent papers, so I am obviously very proud of both Alp and Jared,” says Hicken.