Representatives from 33 industrial firms will visit or call in to Aggieland next week during the Turbomachinery Research Consortium (TRC) annual meeting. They will select the next round of student-led research projects, the results of which will not only impact these companies, but the turbomachinery industry at large.
The 39th annual TRC meeting will kick off at Phillips Event Center at Briarcrest, Texas on 14 May and continue until 16 May. TRC representatives will hear 31 proposals for research projects lead by student and faculty researchers in the Turbomachinery Laboratory at Texas A&M University. Representatives evaluate each proposal, electing to fund 15 – 20 of the top-ranking projects. Turbo Laboratory faculty and students whose projects are selected will begin their research in September.
The TRC is a members-only group of companies who have united with the Turbo Laboratory, a centre of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, to find answers to important questions about turbomachinery performance and reliability through research. TRC member companies provide annual payments of US$25 000 to support a broad range of member-selected projects. TRC member companies have exclusive access to a continuing series of reports and computer programs on all TRC research activities dating back to the foundation of TRC in 1981. Member companies also have exclusive access to software, including XLTRC2, a suite of high-speed, experimentally verified and user-friendly codes for executing rotordynamic analysis of rotating machinery, including pumps, compressors and turbines.
At any given time, 15 – 20 graduate students in Texas A&M’s Department of Mechanical Engineering are supported by the TRC. Students conduct research on TRC projects at the Turbomachinery Laboratory research facility, located on George Bush Drive in College Station, adjacent to Texas A&M’s main campus. The 37 000 ft2 high-bay facility is equipped with 12 top-of-the-line vibration damped test cells and variety of compressors that provide air for test rigs with capacities ranging from 4000 standard ft3/min. at 120 psig to 1350 standard ft3/min. at 300 psig.
Jennifer Gaines, a mechanical design engineer for Sulzer Turbo Services in Houston, conducted research on a two-part project for the TRC before earning her master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M in 2014. Gaines now returns to the annual TRC meetings, this time as Sulzer’s point of contact. “Presenting at the TRC meeting as a student was pretty overwhelming, considering the amount of knowledge and experience in the room,” Gaines said. “Whenever a TRC member has feedback, you know it’s approached with a wide base of knowledge and experience. It’s a humbling experience getting the advice of so many experts all in one room. So now, being on the other side, I have a greater sense of responsibility in trying to guide the presenting engineers in the way that I was guided.” Gaines said she comes to the TRC meetings with an open mind. “The purpose of the Turbo Laboratory is to discover new and interesting things and provide solutions to pre-existing problems. Any findings that come through the Laboratory are beneficial for us to know.”
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