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Featured Faculty

William Louisos

William LouisosWhat could be better than being a UVM student pursuing your dream?

How about graduating and being hired to teach at UVM! William Louisos has done just that. He chose UVM for his graduate studies because of its proximity to the Green Mountains, allowing him to ski and still make road trips home to Buffalo, NY.

Louisos arrived at UVM in the fall 2003 with a B.S. Cum Laude in Mechanical Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He received his M.S. at UVM in mechanical engineering for his thesis entitled, "Viscous Effects in 2D Supersonic MicroNozzle Flow." In 2009, he completed his Ph.D. in mecha nical engineering with his dissertation on "Numerical Studies of Viscous Flow in Supersonic MicroNozzles."

William Louisos

A Scanning-Electron-Microscopy (SEM)image of the NASA-UVM microthruster prototype shown on the head of a US penny as a frame of reference. The microthruster converts the chemical energy potential of hydrogen-peroxide, a 'green' monopropellant, into kinetic energy of supersonic flow in order to produce the thrust and impulse required for nanosatellite control and station keeping.

"Louisos was able to establish himself within the research community as well as contribute as a lecturer for mechanical engineering while getting his Ph.D." says Darren Hitt, professor in the School of Engineering. "His research has created an impact in the new arena of nanosatelites - the next generation of small scale satellites."

Louisos and Darren Hitt are working to create Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems (MEMS) based micropropulsion devices, more commonly referred to as microthursters. These tiny rocket engines are designed to perform attitude and orbit control of nanosatellites - a new fleet of miniaturized spacecraft that are typically the size of beach balls. "What makes our research fundamentally unique is that we have supersonic Mach numbers and very low Reynolds numbers," says Louisos. "This means that viscous forces are quite strong in a flow regime where traditionally viscous effects can be ignored." Currently, Hitt's research group is working to create an experimental test for the thrusters in the UVM microfluids lab.

Hitt received a $750,000 grant from NASA to advance the development of this technology and is partnered with engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

William Louisos

This figure shows two nanosatellites as part of a larger cluster of satellites that operate in distributed networks performing simultaneous, multi-point observations. These small scale nanosats operate in formation flying mission architectures. Owing to the dramatically reduced size of the spacecraft, the controls system require implementation of the micropropulsion research currently underway at UVM

Louisos performs the computational fluid dynamic (CFD) numerical simulations associated with the thruster's supersonic rocket nozzle design. The microthrusters utilize catalytically decomposed hydrogen peroxide as the working fluid propellant. Hydrogen peroxide is considered an environmentally friendly 'Green' monopropellant as the products of decomposition are water and oxygen.

When I asked him what was the key to his success, Louisos replied, "Work hard, play hard, and do it all efficiently. It's great living in Vermont because you can get outdoors and play in the mountains in order to recharge and then you return to work refreshed and ready to be productive."

Louisos is no stranger to working hard. While getting his B.S. degree, he worked at Trane Energy Systems in Buffalo, New York as a mechanical engineer and CAD operator. "What is really nice about my having worked at Trane is the real world experience I gained - being involved from the early design phase of projects all the way to the installation and operational phases of several very interesting and exciting cogeneration projects. I am now able to bring this experience back to the classroom to share with my students in Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics. I believe that it is important to bring a course to "life" and show the students that what they are learning truly is applicable to real life. Engineering really is a great field for doing just that."

Other Accomplishments

An encyclopedia chapter entitled "Supersonic MicroNozzles" by William Louisos and Darren Hitt is part of the "Encyclopedia of Micro and Nano Fluidics" book published by Springer 2008. In addition to several peer reviewed Journal publications, Louisos presented papers at two conferences in 2009: the AIAA Fluid Dynamics Conference in San Antonio, Texas, and the Aerospace Sciences Meeting in Orlando Florida.