NASA Ames Research Center
August 26 – December 13, 2019
Describe what you did during the internship.
The focus of my work was the learning of a powerful analysis tool called CHARM (Comprehensive Hierarchical Aeromechanics Rotorcraft Model). The software is new to the Aeromechanics Branch, as we are starting to use it for its advantages in wake prediction and close to real-time simulation abilities. Since it was new to the branch, we had to learn how to use the software before we could apply it to concept models. To verify our use of CHARM, we aimed to replicate a previous wind tunnel test. This test had produced thorough results that were consistent with another comprehensive tool, CAMRAD II, making it a sound set of data to compare to. Not long after beginning to use the software, it was realized that CHARM would require a much more thorough investigation and understanding to be able to use it correctly than initially anticipated. At this point, the goal of my project shifted so that I would now be dedicating my time towards investigating the inputs and outputs of CHARM for quality use of the software and supporting my coworkers in order to boost their use of CHARM. This learning process proved time-consuming but allowed us to correctly generate the results of the previous simulation. Steps along the way included the development of multiple automation scripts and the creation of material for future users. The scripts that were created, both in Linux and Python, enable users to more easily modify and create input files and run multiple cases consecutively with varying parameters. The product of the internship was the creation of a guide to help new CHARM users and a line-by-line annotation of input file parameters and their uses. Together, these items will jump-start future users and have already led to great progress for current users.
Did you achieve your goals? What were the results and conclusions?
Even though my project goals changed once work began, I believe this internship was successful. Between the project I worked on and the environment I worked in, I believe that I grew as a person during my experience and have helped the Aeromechanics Branch work towards their goals. I truly enjoyed working in a research field, as what I was doing is aiming to benefit society. I also valued the variety of work being done in our branch and the passion my coworkers had for their projects. For the project, we were able to properly replicate the simulation we had been working towards. Along with the guides I made and the scripts for automation, the path has been paved for the branch to fully utilize CHARM. Possibly the most valuable part of me being with the Aeromechanics Branch was my assistance to my coworkers. Together, we learned how to use CHARM to its full potential, laid out plans for the creation of the input files, and were able to work collaboratively towards the true use of the program. CHARM is now ready to be used by the branch, and I am excited to see the results of the analysis in the future.
Describe positive lessons learned from this experience:
A big takeaway I had was that I learned that while not all work is glorious, it is still worth doing. My project was tedious, challenging, and monotonous at times, but it has paved the way for the next big project my branch will take on. Many people in today’s workforce seek immediate gratification, but in the aerospace sector, that is hard to come by. There is a lot of value in the large-scale and long-term projects that I will be working on in the future. I believe that understanding that the reward is at the end of the tunnel and that every accomplishment along the way is important will go a long way for me.
The one unfortunate thing about the internship was that I did not have any knowledge of the research I would be doing going into the experience. I had not had any previous learning experiences with rotorcraft, but I was interested to learn more about the field. Even though I felt unprepared, our branch taught us well and supplied us with all the resources needed to get us going with our research. In the end, there were still some things that proved difficult, though. Many of the mistakes made with CHARM early on could have been avoided had I been more knowledgeable on the subject, having been created by people with a deep understanding of rotorcraft. I believe that the rotorcraft industry will continue to grow, leading to the need for more academic work to be done to promote the field.