Rotorcraft and adaptive structures expert Farhan Gandhi recently joined Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as the Rosalind and John J. Redfern Jr. ’33 Professor of Engineering. He is a tenured full professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering.
“Dr. Gandhi is an international leader in the areas of morphing helicopters and adaptive cellular structures, and we are very excited he has joined our aerospace engineering program—which is already ranked among the nation’s best,” said David Rosowsky, dean of the School of Engineering at Rensselaer. “Farhan is an outstanding academic with a proven record of innovation, synergistic leadership, teaching excellence, and research impact. The entire school joins me in welcoming Dr. Gandhi as the Rosalind and John J. Redfern Jr. ’33 Professor of Engineering.”
An innovative researcher in the field of rotary-wing aircraft, he is recognized internationally as a leader in morphing and active rotors, and adaptive cellular structures. His rotorcraft research programs explore new methods for actively and passively changing the shape of helicopter blades, toward the goal of increasing the capabilities and adaptability of the aircraft, and making them more fuel efficient. For example, shorter blades could enable a helicopter to land and operate in confined spaces, yet the same vehicle could benefit from longer blades to fly faster and higher in open skies. Similarly, chord extension—or widening the blades—would enable helicopters to fly in high-altitude, high-gross-weight, and high-speed conditions, while retraction would reduce profile drag in more benign flight conditions.
Gandhi is a prolific researcher, and is the author of more than 170 technical papers in refereed journals and proceedings. He has secured research funding from both industry and government, with past and present funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Office of Naval Research, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Army Research Office, NASA, Boeing, United Technologies Research Center, Bell Helicopter, AgustaWestland, and others.
Gandhi joins Rensselaer from Pennsylvania State University, where he served as professor of aerospace engineering and deputy director of the Penn State Vertical Lift Research Center of Excellence. In his 17 years at Penn State, he served as adviser to 17 doctoral students and 32 master’s degree students.
At Rensselaer, Gandhi will introduce the new undergraduate course Smart and Adaptive Structures. Looking ahead, he plans to offer new graduate courses in rotorcraft.
“Rensselaer has a rich and important legacy in aerospace engineering, and I am immensely pleased to join as a faculty member in the School of Engineering,” Gandhi said.
Gandhi is active in his field. He served on the American Helicopter Society (AHS) Technical Council from 2007–09, and he was technical chair of the AHS 2009 Annual Forum. Additionally, he served as co-chair of the 2010 International Conference on Adaptive Structures and Technologies (ICAST). Gandhi is a past chair of the AHS Aircraft Design Technical Committee and the AHS Dynamics Technical Committee. He is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Adaptive Structures Committee, the International Society for Optics and Photonics’ Smart Structures Program Committee, and the ICAST Organizing Committee.
He serves as associate editor of the Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures and the Journal of the American Helicopter Society. Additionally, he was guest editor of a 2001 special issue of Smart Materials and Structures Journal on rotorcraft applications, and for a 2010 Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structures special issue on flexible skins for morphing aircraft.
Gandhi has garnered many awards and honors for his work. In 1997, he received the Army Research Office Young Investigator Award, and in 1998 he won the Francois Xavier Bagnoud Award from the American Helicopter Society. Gandhi won a Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award in 2007, and the Penn State Engineering Society’s Outstanding Research Award in 2009. He was recognized with the AHS Forum Best Aircraft Design Paper awards in 2002 and 2009, and the University of Bristol’s Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professorship in 2009-10. Gandhi is an associate fellow of the AIAA.
Gandhi earned his bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering from the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center at the University of Maryland.
The Redfern Chair is among the five named School of Engineering endowed professorships awarded this year. Along with Gandhi, geomicrobiology expert Yuri Gorby was named the Howard N. Blitman ’50 P.E. Career Development Professor in Engineering; fluid dynamics expert Miki Amitay was named the James L. Decker ’45 Endowed Chair in Aerospace Engineering; nanomaterials expert Nikhil Koratkar was named the John A. Clark and Edward T. Crossan Professor of Engineering, and nanotechnology expert Linda Schadler was named the Russell Sage Professor. An endowed professorship is among the highest honors bestowed upon a faculty member at Rensselaer.
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