Callanan receives second place at the SPIE Smart Structures conference

Jesse Callanan at the SPIE conference.

Mechanical engineering PhD student Jesse Callanan (left) earned second place in the Best Student Paper Contest at the SPIE Smart Structures conference in Denver.

by Nicole Capozziello

Published March 22, 2019

Jesse Callanan, a PhD student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was awarded second place in the Best Student Paper Contest at SPIE’s 26th Annual International Symposium on Smart Structures + Nondestructive Evaluation.

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“Jesse is certainly a rising star in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. In addition to showcasing UB’s strength in acoustics and vibrations to the scientific community, his office has become a hub for undergrads who aspire to do research and solve high-impact engineering problems.”
Mostafa Nouh, assistant professor
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Callanan’s paper "Standing-to-traveling wave transition in piezoelectric thermoacoustic energy harvesters” was selected as one of six finalists out of over 50 submissions. Finalists were then invited to the conference to present their work to an audience and panel of judges in a day-long special session. Evaluated on criteria such as impact of work, innovation, quality of presentation, and responses to the judges’ questions, Callanan was awarded second place out of the international pool of finalists.

“Jesse is certainly a rising star in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences,” says Mostafa Nouh, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and director of the Sound and Vibrations Laboratory, where Callanan conducts his research. “In addition to showcasing UB’s strength in acoustics and vibrations to the scientific community, his office has become a hub for undergrads who aspire to do research and solve high-impact engineering problems. I am very proud of his achievements and I’m positive that the impacts of his research will continue to garner international recognition.”

Callanan and Nouh’s research on this topic was recently published in the high-impact Applied Energy journal. Additionally, Nouh recently received a four-year National Science Foundation grant to further study thermoacoustic systems.

In the competition, Callanan presented his work on optimizing the energy extraction process in thermoacoustic heat engines, a class of environmentally friendly engines that generate mechanical and electrical power by exploiting a natural phenomenon involving heat-to-sound energy conversion in a sealed cavity. Callanan’s thermoacoustic energy conversion mechanism uses a new methodology for increasing energy generation capabilities and efficiency, a persistent challenge for this class of engines. While still in its early stages, Callanan’s work has shown some promising results.

“We're currently working to experimentally prove that by using the controlled sound waves to generate electricity we can power small sensors or communication devices from waste heat. One really promising application is using the heat generated by a computer CPU to power small transmitters,” says Callanan. “The work in this paper shows that these devices could potentially be made small enough to fit in a typical computer and the power output would be dramatically increased compared to other thermoacoustic energy converters.”

The conference, which took place from March 3-7, 2019,  in Denver, brought together individuals from academia, industry, and government from around the world to connect and share the latest research.