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Munich Internship Offered Hands-On Participation in International Research

Master's student Frank Fang worked on a rotorcraft efficiency study while at Germany's Technical Institute of Munich

Duke Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS) student Zhang "Frank" Fang was investigating summer internship opportunities when he heard through his department about the Practical Research Experience Program (PREP) at the prestigious Technical University of Munich (TUM).

“When I learned that PREP integrates research into the internship experience at one of the top engineering universities, I decided I wanted to take part,” Fang says.

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During the 10-week program, Fang conducted research for SABRE (Shape Adaptive Blades for Rotorcraft Efficiency), an international study aimed at developing innovative helicopter blade-morphing technologies.

"The TUM/PREP program is one of the many opportunities Duke Engineering facilitates for our master’s students through our career services," said Brad Fox, associate dean of engineering master's programs. "These research and internship experiences allow students to explore their academic and industrial interests."

Fang explored his interest in aerodynamics through research in blade morphing, which involves changing the flap angle of a rotor blade, which itself affects rotor performance.

“After I built models of blades with various flap angles using MATLAB software, I meshed the models with ANSYS ICEM CFD software,” he says. “The meshed models were entered into the TAU solver, and then I analyzed the influence of blade-morphing mechanisms from the simulation data.”

Fang enjoyed his down time while in Munich — a European hub for advanced technology and manufacturing, and the third largest city in Germany.

“I got to explore the German culture with colleagues and local students,” he says. “We did a lot of activities in our spare time, which helped us build a closer relationship with each other.”

Now in his third semester of the MEMS Master of Science (MS) program, Fang holds an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Birmingham. He is considering both the automobile industry and the medical instrumentation field as possible career paths.

“PREP was a great opportunity to conduct hands-on research with very intelligent people from different countries, as well as to gain a deeper understanding of computational fluid dynamics (CFD), which is essential in mechanical engineering,” Fang says.

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