Newswise — Two aeronautical engineering students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute shared first place in the 2018 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Multidisciplinary Design Optimization student paper competition. Graduate students Jared Crean and Alp Dener tied for first place and were each awarded $1,500.

The winners were announced at the 2018 AIAA Aviation Forum, which took place in Atlanta, Georgia, June 25-29. The competition was administered by the Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO) Technical Committee of the AIAA and sponsored by the NASA Glenn Research Center. MDO was one of eight fields in which student paper competitions were offered at this year’s conference.

Of 18 papers submitted to the MDO competition, six finalists were selected after the first round of judging. Finalists were judged based on their paper as well as a 20-minute oral presentation given at the conference. Judges also assessed the originality of the work and its importance to the field.

Both Crean and Dener performed their research in the lab of Jason Hicken, associate professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering. Hicken is director of the Optimal Design Lab at Rensselaer, which seeks to improve the design process of complex engineering systems. The lab’s research focus is partial-differential-equation (PDE)-governed design optimization: the synthesis of high-fidelity numerical simulations, computational geometry, and optimization algorithms.

Crean’s paper was titled “Adjoint-based Local Reanalysis of Nonlinear PDEs.” Dener’s paper was titled “Enabling Modular Aerostructural Optimization: Individual Discipline Feasible without the Jacobians.” Dener earned his doctorate at Rensselaer in December 2017 and is pursuing postdoctoral research at the Argonne National Laboratory. Crean continues his studies at Rensselaer.

“This year’s competition was very tough, with many excellent papers, so I am obviously very proud of both Alp and Jared,” said Hicken.

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is America’s first technological research university. For nearly 200 years, Rensselaer has been defining the scientific and technological advances of our world. Rensselaer faculty and alumni represent 86 members of the National Academy of Engineering, 18 members of the National Academy of Sciences, 26 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 8 members of the National Academy of Medicine, 8 members of the National Academy of Inventors, and 5 members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, as well as 6 National Medal of Technology winners, 5 National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With 7,000 students and nearly 100,000 living alumni, Rensselaer is addressing the global challenges facing the 21st century—to change lives, to advance society, and to change the world. To learn more, go to


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