Bird Design and Aircraft Evolution
Speaker: Geoffrey Spedding, University of Southern California
Series: MAE Departmental Seminars
Location: Bowen Hall Room 222
Date/Time: Friday, February 22, 2013, 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Alternative flying machines (in the sense that they differ from our usual designs) can be invented, or studied. In all cases, it is reasonable to wonder whether a particular design is optimal, or perhaps what it is optimal for. Definitions of optimality quickly become complex: minimum drag:lift ratio for n passengers that allows our company to outcompete our rival(s) or something that can be grown fast, still works when 50% of the aft surfaces are missing, and that fits in a nest. We will consider two examples of flying devices, one evolved and one invented, and we will look for parallels that exist between them, or perhaps ought to.
Geoffrey Spedding was educated at the University of Bristol, England, where he
received both his B.Sc. and his Ph.D. in Zoology. His Ph.D. was on the Aerodynamics of Animal Flight and since then he has worked at the boundaries between disciplines. Following his Ph.D., in 1981, he came to work at USC in the Aerospace Engineering Department, and has worked on a number of fluid mechanics problems, many of which have exploited new measurement or analysis techniques, including the development of novel digital image processing techniques, optimal interpolation methods for scattered data, and continuous wavelet functions for real data. He now works on two main topics: the first is Geophysical Fluid Dynamics -- the study of ocean and atmospheric circulations on earth and other planets. The second is the aerodynamics of small scale
flying machines, which includes birds and bats. In 2010 he was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society. He has received a Northrop Grumman Teaching Award in 2005, and is a Distinguished Fellow of the Center for Excellence in Teaching. In January 2010 he became Chair of the AME Department.