• Balamir Sahin

Interview with Weinong Chen, Professor at Purdue University


1. Please tell us about yourself.

Wayne Chen, Aeronautics and Astronautics Professor at Purdue University.

2. Why did you want to become an aerospace engineer?

I built model airplanes when I was a kid and never looked at other careers. I love airplanes.

3. What has been your toughest accomplishment so far in your career?

Getting a large group of people with diverse backgrounds to work together on the same pace.

4. Is there a big milestone that you are looking forward to in your research? If so what is it?

Not specific. I am helping other people to realize their aerospace dreams now.

5. What are some of the extreme conditions and materials that you use in your mechanical response testing?

High-speed impact on the worlds 4th hardest material after diamond.

6. What are some of the correlations that you may have noticed on mechanical behavior and microstructural effects?

This is actually my research theme. Right processing of materials leads to right microstructures that produce desired properties. Or the other way around: if you want certain material behavior (e.g., high strength at high temperatures for engine blades), you need to know how to make the material into certain microstructure.

7. What are some of the fatigue behaviors of materials that you are trying to eliminate? How are you planning to do so?

Minimize the inclusion of undesired debris in the making of the materials. These debris are the sites where fatigue cracks will initiate (this is an example of your question 6).

8. To high schoolers like me and to younger generations that want to become aerospace engineers, what would be your advice to be successful in this career?

Maintain high GPA so that you get a chance to enter these highly competitive sectors of the job market. Make sure the subject resonates with your interest from your heart (you really love the subject). Not everyone becomes an expert because things get harder when you get deeper into them. It is hard to continue unless you really enjoy the subject. So you need to do a soul searching. Finally, learn to work with people well. When I was involved in a jumbo jet design, there were 7,000 engineers working on this one plane. You’ll have a lot of meetings that need to be conducted effectively and followed up efficiently.

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