Inside Rensselaer
* Kyle Wilt Wins ASME Best Student Paper Award
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Kyle Wilt Wins ASME Best Student Paper Award

Doctoral student Kyle Wilt has won the Best Student Paper Award from the Noise Control and Acoustics Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The award recognizes Wilt’s research on using ultrasound to transmit power and data through thick metal structures. The award also affirms Rensselaer’s leadership in the field of ultrasonic communications.

A graduate student in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering (MANE), Wilt presented his paper, “Mechanical Design Implications on Power Transfer through Thick Metallic Barriers Using Piezoelectric Transducers,” in November at the ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition. He will receive his award, including a $1,000 prize, March 2 at a meeting of the Hudson-Mohawk Section of ASME and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Wilt is part of a team of researchers — including professors and doctoral students from MANE and the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering — who are seeking a better way to transmit power and data, simultaneously, through thick metal barriers. The challenge is to maintain the strength of the electrical signal, the integrity of the data, and the structural integrity of the barrier.

Using a piezoelectric transducer, the team has been able to convert electrical energy and data into acoustic waves and send those waves through the metal barrier. A second piezoelectric transducer, located on the other side of the barrier, harvests the energy from the waves and converts it back to its original form. To date, the team has demonstrated that this process can transmit more than 80 watts of power and 10 megabits per second of digital communications through solid metal.

The research has applications for Navy ship hulls and other pressure vessels. “If you penetrate these vessels, their capacity — the amount of pressure they can tolerate — is reduced,” said Henry Scarton, associate professor and director of the Laboratory for Noise and Vibration Control Research. “We send the energy through the wall without penetration, so we don’t compromise the structural integrity.”

Wilt came to Rensselaer as an undergraduate. He became interested in acoustics after taking a course with Scarton, who has since become Wilt’s adviser.

“Kyle is a gifted student and an invaluable member of our team,” Scarton said. “This award recognizes his talents and contributions. It also acknowledges that Rensselaer is one of the key players in this field.”

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 3, February 18, 2011
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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