2021 DARPA Young Faculty Award Goes to Suo Yang

ME Richard and Barbara Nelson Assistant Professor Suo Yang is one of this year's Young Faculty Award (YFA) recipients from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). This prestigious award identifies rising stars who will focus a significant portion of their career on Department of Defense and National Security issues. Yang's team will receive more than $980,000 over the course of three years for his project, "Hypersonic Sonic Boom Theory Based on Line-Distributed Energy Impulse Source: Lift, Shape, and Thermochemistry."

The YFA award gives Yang the opportunity to expand his research from reacting flows to hypersonics and aeroacoustics, allowing him to extend his expertise in thermochemistry to new areas. It also means that his team of graduate students and postdocs will encounter and then expand past the research frontiers of hypersonics and aeroacoustics, eventually delivering a revolutionary hypersonic sonic boom theory — an area that has been stuck since the 1970s.

"This is a highly regarded award for an assistant professor to receive, and only about 30 assistant/associate professors across the U.S. get this award each year," said Susan Mantell, Department Head and James J. Ryan Professor. "This speaks to the quality of Dr. Yang's research and the potential it has to positively impact society. The caliber of work being done in our department is clear to me every day, so it's very rewarding to have it recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense."

Yang's study aims to understand, predict, and control sonic booms to minimize the inherent energy and environmental impacts of supersonic and hypersonic flights, making such flights more efficient and also lowering the damage done to buildings, humans, and animals in their paths. The work stands to advance national security measures while mitigating the negative effects of sonic booms.