N. Agastya Balantrapu has been named the 2020 Outstanding Graduate student in the the Aerospace and Ocean Engineering department.

Nominated by Dr. William Devenport, Balantrapu is currently working on his doctoral degree in aerospace engineering.

Devenport said, "What would we expect to see in a graduate student of the year? I would say a state of the art technical work in their chosen field, demonstrated technical leadership, a demonstrated interest in disseminating their knowledge (e.g. education), and a leader amongst their peers. Agastya has all of these.

His research involves experimental study of the structure of the turbulence generated by turbulence flowing through a rotor. This is an extremely challenging problem requiring the student to master testing in a commercial-scale wind tunnel, the design and operation of precision models involving high-speed rotating systems, and a wide range of turbulence measuring instrumentation, including state of the art time-resolved PIV of turbulence actually entering the rotor. Agastya has not only done an outstanding job of leading, designing and implementing these experiments (along with fellow student Chris Hickling), he clearly fully grasps that the work of an engineering scientist only begins with data collection. His analysis and publication of the extensive data he has collected betray a desire to understand at a deep level the underlying physics of the problem.

His work has led to 7 conference papers of which he is principal author of 3. He is currently preparing 3 articles for journal publication. One of Agastya’s most impressive traits is his desire to take on new challenges that stretch his own abilities and experience. This Spring semester he chose to take on, as sole instructor of record, the teaching of AOE 3014 Fluid Dynamics for AOE. He has managed to balance his impressive activity in research with a truly dedicated approach to this class. Additionally, he has seamlessly managed the sudden transition to online teaching mandated by COVID-19 – an impressive accomplishment for a first time instructor.

He is a leader amongst his peers and has supplied, since his arrival in my group, a large part of the energy and inspiration behind the CREATe graduate student organization. His efforts have inspired others and have thus both directly and indirectly led to the vibrant social and technical esprit de corps we have amongst in CREATe. Agastya’s ambition is to become a faculty member at a major research institution. He has a deep understanding of what this means and has deliberately set out to get the skills and experience needed. He has my highest recommendation."