Theodore Steiner

University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI

Mechanical Engineering

Principal Investigators: Bill Warmbrodt and Larry Olson
Project: Advanced Rotorcraft Aeromechanics Research

Education and Experiences:

This summer at the NASA Academy falls right in the middle of an exciting time full of transitions for me. I am graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison this May with a degree in Mechanical Engineering with Honors in Research, and next fall I will be starting graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. My undergraduate experiences were largely based around robotics and cryogenics, and I will be building on this experience at MIT next year as I move into space systems research.

For the past four years at Madison, I have been actively involved in the UW Robotics Team, which competes in the annual Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition. By my sophomore year I was the primary mechanical designer, spending the majority of my time either in either CAD programs or the student shop. As a Junior, I served as both the all-team leader and the mechanical team leader, overseeing both the redevelopment of the previous year's unsuccessful competition entry. It was incredibly rewarding to watch the team grow from only four members at the start of the year to over twenty by the end, and achieve the best results at the competition in school history, including first place for design.

During my junior year, I was an undergraduate lab assistant in the UW-Madison Cryogenics Lab for two graduate students, helping to design experiments and collect data. Later that year, I was awarded an undergraduate research fellowship from the UW-Madison Department of Mechanical Engineering to research a new means of increasing the efficiency of Inertance Tube Pulse Tube Cryocoolers (ITPTCs). ITPTCs produce high levels of cooling using an oscillating gas for applications ranging from satellites to MRI machines. I am working with my advisor to develop a test apparatus and data acquisition program to take performance measurements of a new device. I will present my research findings at the International Cryocooler Conference this June.

Last summer, I interned at Boeing in St. Louis, working in the Structures Definitions group. This gave me the opportunity to learn more about the aerospace industry and helped to rekindle my childhood dreams of one day designing aircraft or spacecraft. With this new enthusiasm, I returned to Madison for my senior year and changed my schedule to include courses in aerodynamics and flight dynamics and decided to apply for graduate school and the NASA Academy to further develop these interests. I am incredibly excited about the new direction my research and studies have moved towards in the past year, and I am really looking forward to spending this summer at NASA Ames.