Research

NSF-funded Surface Engineering Research to Contribute to Air Safety

Julius Schoop is the recipient of an NSF CAREER Award. Alicia Gregory and Ben Corwin | Research Communications

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 26, 2022) Did you know, in 2019, the Aerospace Industry Association (AIA) reported nearly 30% of uncontained engine failures are caused by machining and finishing process-induced abnormalities?

That’s where Julius Schoop, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Kentucky, and his groundbreaking research comes in.

“Now, we can look at this as sort of a preventative paradigm — where we can actually proactively engineer surface properties and increase the performance, the sustainability, the ability to make repairs more efficiently and the ability to use them longer.”

For his project titled “Thermomechanical Response and Fatigue Performance of Surface Layers Engineered by Finish Machining,” Schoop is the recipient of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award.

The honor is one of the “most prestigious awards in support of the early career-development activities of teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate education and research within the context of their organization’s mission,” according to the NSF.

The program will provide Schoop with $500,000 over five years to conduct research using artificial intelligence (AI) and high-speed microscopy to understand the impact of machining on material failure — like those responsible for plane crashes.

“I like to think about it kind of like LEGOs. It’s a modular approach, and we take the best from each world, and we try to sort of fuse them in a way that's more than the sum of the parts,” Schoop explained. “We tend to look at very small objects at the micron scale, so a millionth of a meter, moving at about a meter per second. We need frame rates on the order of 100,000 to close to a million some of these events at very high magnification. Because we are working to understand the mechanical and thermal response of a material.”

Schoops research has been funded by the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense. But with the award from the NSF, he will be able to support a student researcher — ultimately, enhancing his team and the work they do.

“It will allow my team and I to construct new experimental apparatus,” he explained. “It will also allow us to really investigate some key questions that hopefully can solve problems that people have been dealing with for more than 100 years now.”

Schoops and his team are up for the challenge. And on their quest for answers, they hope to put UK and the Commonwealth in the national spotlight.

“I have a vision for the University of Kentucky really being a key contributor to the aerospace industry, in particular, to really provide the talent that can drive the next generation of advancements in industry.”

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Science Foundation under Award Number 2143806. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Photo of Julius Schoop
Julius Schoop is the recipient of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. Ben Corwin | Research Communications

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.