Principal Investigator

Andrew Ning

Andrew Ning is interested in the complex tradeoffs that occur in engineering design. The design of wind energy and flight systems involves strong interactions across multiple disciplines. Optimization is a useful tool in exploring these design decisions. In addition to design applications, he is interested in developing fundamental algorithms and methodologies for efficient aerodynamic analysis and optimization.

Dr. Ning received his PhD and MS degrees from Stanford University in the Aircraft Aerodynamics and Design Group. After graduation he worked at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on wind turbine aeroelastic analysis and optimization. He loves engaging in ideas and learning with the excellent students and faculty at BYU. Outside of engineering he enjoys mountain biking, soccer, basketball, and reading.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Denis-Gabriel Caprace

Denis-Gabriel Caprace developed a keen interest in complex aeronautical systems and their interaction with the environment. Aerodynamics plays a major role in these interactions where the study of fundamental mechanisms may reveal new ways to exploit original solutions to engineering problems. D.-G.’s motivations are to identify and advance such solutions in the fields of aviation and sustainable energy. This involves the development of physics-based models and numerical methods, and the use of high performance computing. Denis-Gabriel holds a PhD and a MS from Université Catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain, Belgium). As an alumni of the TIME dual degree exchange program, he also obtained a masters degree in aerospace engineering from ISAE Supaero (France). In his free time, he likes running, hiking, and flying sailplanes.

PhD Students

Jared Thomas

Jared Thomas is interested in engineering and business. He is pursuing both a PhD in mechanical engineering and an MBA at Brigham Young University (BYU).

Jared’s engineering interests include design optimization, systems engineering, and renewable energy. He is developing new techniques and tools for solving the wind farm layout optimization problem in the pursuit of creating more efficient wind farms. He has created and contributed to several open-source tools including WISDEM/FLORISSE, OpenMDAO, and WakeExchange.

Jared’s primary business interests are strategy and product management. He has worked with local and international companies doing business consulting. Jared is an MBA intern at Coreform, a tech startup in Provo, Utah, and is a partner in the BYU Marriott School’s Cougar Strategy Group (CSG).

Jared received his BS degree from BYU in 2015, with minors in music and mathematics. He enjoys spending time with his wife and kids exploring the outdoors, making music, and experimenting with sourdough.

Taylor McDonnell

Taylor McDonnell has many interests, the foremost of which is UAVs. He is currently researching HALE UAV aeroelasticity and plans to extend this research into aeroservoelasticity. He is excited about the many potential applications of UAVs and hopes his work will offer valuable insights in developing HALE UAVs that can remain airborne for months at a time. He earned his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from BYU in 2016. In his spare time he enjoys movies, music, sports, hiking, and flying remote control aerial vehicles.

Judd Mehr

Judd Mehr graduated from BYU with a Bachelor of Science degree in April of 2016, majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics and emphasis in Aerospace. He is currently researching the aerodyanmics of Airborne Wind Energy kites, specifically investigating rotor on wing interactions. Judd is most recently from American Fork, Utah, but has spent time living in California, Illinois, Texas, and Virginia. In addition to engineering, he enjoys designing and building projects at home, hiking, cycling, camping, cooking, and going on small adventures.

Eduardo Alvarez

Eduardo Alvarez is interested in the aerodynamics of electric VTOL aircraft, or “flying cars.” His past experience has involved compressible flow in shock tubes, solid propulsion in experimental rocketry, fluid-structure interaction along the larynx, and reliability of wind turbines. He is now researching propeller-propeller and propeller-wing aerodynamic interactions involved in the design of electric aircraft. After completing the common core of Science and Engineering at the University of Chile, he earned his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from BYU-Idaho in 2017. In his spare time he enjoys jazz music, experimental rocketry, and poetry.

An overview of his research is available in this notebook.

Teagan Nakamoto

Teagan Nakamoto grew up on a chicken farm on the Big Island of Hawai’i and graduated April 2017 from BYU with his BS Mechanical Engineering degree and a minor in editing. He is researching applications of convex optimization to wind farm design. Among a great many other things, Teagan enjoys reading Brandon Sanderson books, running mountainous trails, eating Spam musubis, and listening to metal remakes of Disney songs.

Ryan Anderson

Ryan Anderson is intrigued by the design of eVTOL aircraft, particularly utilizing computational aerodynamics and acoustics models. This interest began with an Honors thesis at the conclusion of his BS Mechanical Engineering degree at BYU in 2019. He has experience researching the effects of weather on the aerodynamic and battery performance of fixed and rotary wing drones, and assisted in the development of a fixed wing drone for the AUVSI-SUAS competition in 2019. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at BYU. In his spare time, Ryan enjoys playing basketball, rock climbing, hiking, and making music with friends.

Tyler Critchfield

Tyler Critchfield is interested in electric VTOL aircraft design optimization to reduce acoustic environmental impact, with the goal of promoting public acceptance and eventual integration of urban air mobility into modern society. Tyler is from Puyallup, Washington, and graduated from BYU in 2019 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Business Management. In his free time he enjoys hiking, family history, sports, and playing board games with family and friends.

Adam Cardoza

Adam Cardoza is interested in the physics that describe the world of motion, especially flight. He enjoys building multifaceted aerodynamic models to explore the capabilities of different aircraft. Current research interests include computational modeling, systems optimization and algorithm development. Adam graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering and minors in Mathematics and Ballroom Dance. He enjoys camping, climbing and cooking. Recently, he has begun building and flying remote control aircraft.

Benjamin Varela

Benjamin Varela is interested in modeling complex aerodynamic systems, especially those relating to wind energy. His goal is to create tools to design more efficient wind farms through accurate modeling and advanced optimization of complex systems. Benjamin graduated from BYU with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 2021. In his free time he enjoys playing board games, listening to music, cooking, and hiking.

James Cutler

James Cutler is interested in wind farm optimization. His past experience involves optimization of turbine tilt in a wind farm, wind farm layout optimization with boundary and cabling cost constraints, small wind turbine design and testing, damage equivalent load calculations for simulations of Sandia’s SWIFT site wind turbines, and design of post-processing tools for Sandia’s high-fidelity Nalu-Wind simulations. He is currently researching wake modeling methods that can sufficiently capture complex aerodynamics associated with wind farm control strategies such as periodic pitch control. He enjoys collaborating on art projects with his wife, watching and making movies, gardening, sports, and exploring new ways of cooking.

MS Students


Former PhD Students

Former MS Students