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College of Science & Engineering


An interview with Cooper Gould '19

The Fulbright Scholarship Program revolves around global collaboration, cultural appreciation, and lifelong partnership.  The Fulbright Research Fellowship is an 8 – 12-month immersive experience centered technically research while simultaneously strongly intertwining non-academic facets such as societal integration within the host community, thus enabling impactful contributions to society on a personal level. 

What were you researching in Switzerland?  

Specifically, I’ve been working on wing (camber and spanwise) morphing through the optimization of bistable compliant mechanisms while simultaneously designing and fabricating high precision lift and translational mechanisms which enable the validation and verification of these morphing wings through Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV).  The coupled electro-mechanical systems have required holistic trade studies, analyses, and requirements.

The lift mechanism is a bevel gear/lead screw precision device that I was tasked with designing and producing from scratch.  Through this project I really fell in love with the design process, from design revisions, to analysis, to working with the machine shop for manufacturing and assembly.  When designing the translational motion mechanism, which is powered by a stepper motor, I was required to not only design the mechanical components but also the controlling algorithm and the circuit itself.

Ultimately, whether by developing a more aerodynamic wing or engaging in cultural traditions, the Fulbright Experience will serve as a platform for me to give back to and better, not just the world, but the universe.

Where did your research develop from? What motivates you?

Through my independent honors thesis research at TCU, I sought to understand the effectiveness of current airplane winglet designs in reducing wing tip vortices. Through CAD, 3-D printing of models, and wind tunnel testing, I collected lift and drag measurement data for four different winglet prototypes at various speeds and angles of attack. Data analysis revealed that no one winglet configuration is best for the entire takeoff, cruise, and landing cycle – thus leading to my conceptual formulation of the morphing winglet.  I then transitioned to refining the structural and mechanical configuration of a morphing winglet – experience which strongly correlates to my Fulbright fellowship.

While at TCU, I strove to impact TCU’s community on a global scale.  Last summer I interned at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory – the first TCU student to ever do so.  While there, I connected TCU engineering faculty with JPL project directors, forging a partnership which will benefit future students for years to come.  Furthermore, I was the first TCU student to be selected for a Fulbright Research Fellowship in Switzerland.  I’m grateful for both opportunities as they allowed me to give back to a university that has given me so much.

How have your studies of mechanical engineering at TCU helped you with your research at EPFL (Switzerland’s Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne)?

When I reflect upon my time at TCU, I recall upon a campus that became a home, a community that became a family, and a school that became an invaluable gift.  The impact TCU has had on my life is astounding, with my Honors Thesis research serving as the bedrock for my success in and throughout my involvements as a leader in the Fort Worth community, as an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as a Fulbright Scholar at EPFL, and in my future ambitions that lie ahead.  The undergraduate research opportunities provided by the Honors College set me apart in my pursuits of both a graduate education and a Fulbright research fellowship to Switzerland.  Research connected me with brilliant professors, igniting my passions by providing the necessary opportunities and resources to foster success regardless of the endeavor.  However, of even greater importance, TCU, through my mechanical engineering research, acted as a catalyst for personal and spiritual growth by surrounding me with intelligent, ambitious, well-rounded individuals while simultaneously reinforcing the Lord’s calling on my life.

From academic classes to my Honors Thesis, TCU’s Mechanical Engineering department played a vital role in preparing me for my research at EPFL.  In particular, through senior designed I served as project engineer for a yearlong partnership between TCU and SmartLift Solutions where my responsibilities included leading a team of eight students through designing, fabricating, and integrating a 20-foot-tall oil plunger test assembly.

What are your intentions or plans after Fulbright?

In August I will begin my studies at University of Colorado Boulder in the Aerospace Engineering MS Program with a focus in Structures & Materials. I believe that CU, paired with my JPL and Fulbright experiences, will be the perfect university to springboard me for a career in the space program, specifically in spacecraft design.

I'm in search of an education that not just prepares me to be successful in the workplace, but also an education that teaches me how to be successful in global contribution, collaboration, mentorship.