Fluid Dynamics Award Establishes UH Engineer as World's Most Highly Decorated Scholar in Field

Dr. Fazle Hussain, Cullen Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Dr. Fazle Hussain, Cullen Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering

University of Houston engineer Fazle Hussain's recent acquisition of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Fluid Dynamics Award for 2002 establishes him as the world's most highly decorated scholar within the field of fluid dynamics.

Hussain, Cullen Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has been selected to receive the AIAA Fluid Dynamics Award for his contributions to the understanding of turbulence. He had previously claimed all three of the other most widely coveted awards in the field:

  • 1984 Freeman Scholar Award of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • 1998 Fluid Dynamics Prize of the American Physical Society
  • 2000 Fluids Engineering Award of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers

Only two other scholars have ever claimed as many as two of the four awards, which are given for career achievement or most original contributions in the field.

"Dr. Hussain's accomplishments are unprecedented in his field," said Raymond W. Flumerfelt, dean of the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston. "This combination of prestigious awards is an indisputable fact of what we at the University of Houston have known for a long time: Dr. Hussain is the world's leading expert in turbulence studies and fluid dynamics."

The AIAA Fluid Dynamics Award is given in recognition of outstanding contributions to the understanding of the behavior of liquids and gases in motion as related to need in aeronautics and astronautics. Hussain, Cullen Distinguished Professor at the UH Cullen College of Engineering, will receive the award at the AIAA Awards Luncheon in St. Louis on June 25.

The primary theme of Hussain's decades of research is the "search for order in the disorder of turbulence." That is, underlying the complicated, seemingly random motion of turbulence, there is an organization. Hussain was one of the pioneers in recognizing that such organized motion is the key to understanding turbulence, and to controlling turbulent flows for technological benefit: for example, in designing better engines and turbines, reducing drag and hence saving fuel in aircraft, and reducing the noise from jet engines. Toward this end, he has pursued experimental, numerical and theoretical studies of the basic mechanisms of turbulence.

Hussain, along with his Ph.D. student Wade Schoppa, developed a realistic and economical strategy for significant reduction (up to 20 percent) in aircraft friction drag. The strategy potentially could reduce expenditures on aircraft fuel by $3 billion per year.

Hussain's career has been characterized by his insistence on developing and applying quantitative conceptual and experimental tools. In the 1980s, his research contributed to moving the field beyond the qualitative studies of flow visualization. Hussain's studies revealed how misleading and inadequate the qualitative approaches had sometimes been. More recently, Hussain developed Holographic Particle Velocimetry, a three-dimensional flow measurement technology that has applications, among other fields, in the medical sciences, particularly the study of blood flow in the development of the artificial heart.

Another project, initiated in conjunction with Michael Goldshtik, Ph.D., is the bladeless helicopter, which is powered by a "manufactured tornado" and is capable of vertical ascent and landing. Hussain, who founded the college's Aerodynamics and Turbulence Laboratory in 1973, has also studied turbulence phenomena in jets and shear layers, chaos control, vortex dynamics, aeroacoustics, and thermal science.

Hussain came to the University of Houston in 1971 as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. He was inducted as a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2001 and was elected a member of the Third World Academy of Sciences in 1997. The John Hopkins Society of Scholars inducted him in 1996.

In 1999, the University of Houston presented its annual Sigma Xi Research Award to Hussain, recognizing him as one of the world's leading researchers in fluid dynamics.

After earning his B.S. in mechanical engineering from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in 1963, Hussain worked as a lecturer until transferring to Stanford University as a Fulbright Scholar. He obtained his M.S. and his Ph.D. at Stanford in 1966 and 1969.

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