© 2023 St. Louis Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
The 88.5 FM KMST Rolla transmitter is operating at low power while awaiting a replacement part.

Missouri S&T students will get training on measuring supersonic jet engine emissions

Tom Wagner
Missouri S&T
Phil Whitefield in his lab at Missouri S&T. He and his students will be working on ways to test the emissions on supersonic jet engines.

ROLLA — Missouri University of Science and Technology is part of a program studying the feasibility of widespread supersonic commercial flight — a project that’s expected to place its students in high demand.

NASA and the U.S. Department of Transportation are funding the three-year study that also includes the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“Flying faster presents new environmental challenges, both in terms of the amount of emissions produced and their impact. We are taking a holistic approach that aims to develop cleaner engine technologies and aviation systems through the lens of environmental impact,” said Adam Steinberg, an aerospace engineering professor at Georgia Tech.

Missouri S&T’s role will be developing ways to test the emissions of the engines to reduce environmental impact, specifically to assess impact on the ozone layer.

“Our portion will be training individuals in terms of their understanding in how to make emissions measurements, how to interpret them, and how to answer questions that we don’t know the answers to right now,” said Phil Whitefield, emeritus chemistry professor at S&T. He has spent much of his career on jet emissions research.

Whitefield said in addition to doing their own research, the S&T students will be visiting MIT and Georgia Tech and working with students at those universities.

“Can you imagine how valuable that young person is going to be? And the program doesn’t just start at the graduate level. But it also has opportunities for internships for undergraduates as well,” he said.

Whitefield said he is glad S&T is part of a program to train the next generation of jet emissions experts as he is nearing the end of his career.

“Finding people to replace me is difficult. But the NASA program really tends to be headed in the right direction,” Whitefield said. “I’m just glad the powers that be figure that Missouri S&T is a good place for students to get trained.”

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @JonathanAhl

Jonathan is the Rolla correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.