Photo: TRC member company representatives joined Turbo Lab faculty and students at the laboratory for a tour during the 38th annual TRC meeting.
Since 1981, the Turbomachinery Research Consortium at Texas A&M University has solved problems for major industry leaders through student-led research.
The TRC is a group of 36 companies that contribute annual fees of $25,000 to fund projects that are investigated by 15 to 20 Texas A&M graduate students and faculty in the Turbomachinery Laboratory. Each year, the Turbo Lab, a center of the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), hosts a meeting for TRC representatives where faculty members and students present research proposals. Forty proposals were presented this year during the meeting held May 15-17 in College Station. The goal of the proposals is to find answers to questions relating to performance and reliability of turbomachinery—rotating equipment that extracts or adds energy to fluids.
TRC representatives provided feedback on the projects, and will select which proposals receive funding. TRC member companies get access to all TRC research dating back to its foundation in 1981, a suite of platinum software, and highly-qualified students for hire.
Manish Thorat was one of those students. Thorat studied labyrinth seals in the Turbo Lab under former director Dr. Dara Childs before earning his master’s in mechanical engineering in 2010. Thanks to the TRC, he immediately landed a job with Elliott Group upon graduating. Thorat attended the meeting last week as Elliott Group’s representative.
“I would say it is better to be on this side of the podium, rather than presenting on the other side,” Thorat said, laughing. “There’s less pressure, and I get to ask the questions now.”
Aside from cutting-edge research, Thorat said the greatest aspect of TRC is that it connects students with feedback directly from industry.
“When you’re developing a tool, you’re developing it for industry,” Thorat said. “So getting feedback on what specifics are needed is important. Not only is this helpful for students in their research, but it ultimately benefits TRC companies.”
Rick Pollick is director of new business development for New Way Air Bearings, a manufacturer of externally pressurized porous media gas bearings and a member of TRC for four years. Pollick said the company continues to support TRC because of the reputation of the Turbo Lab.
“We’ve gotten results from TRC research that has really helped us,” Pollick said. “I know those results are furthering externally pressurized gas bearings in the industry as a new, upcoming technology. The students we work with are extremely knowledgeable and they have the benefit of working with great professors. I think they will go far in the industry, and be recognized as leaders one day. They are some of the best students we’ve found to work with on projects such as these.”
TRC representatives will review proposal material through June, with awards announced in July. Work on selected projects will begin in September.
For more details on TRC, including membership information, visit turbolab.tamu.edu/trc.
The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) Turbomachinery Laboratory makes a vital impact on turbomachinery and related industries through research, education and professional workforce development. Visit turbolab.tamu.edu for more information.