Meet a Fluid Power Scholarship Winner – Brendan McCluskey

Programs like the Fluid Power Scholarships are made possible in part by the generous support of industry volunteers as well as NFPA Education and Technology Foundation and Pascal Society donors. Support these efforts by making a donation.

The NFPA Education and Technology Foundation has awarded nineteen $2,000 scholarships to students pursuing fluid power technology fields of study.

Here’s one of the winners, Brendan McCluskey. Brendan is attending Georgia Institute of Technology. We asked Brendan about winning the scholarship for the second year…

What class(es) did you take within the last year that expanded your understanding of fluid power?

I am currently enrolled in my first fluid dynamics course: Introduction to Continuum Physics. We have had in-depth lectures regarding fluid properties, continuum dynamics, and compressible/incompressible flows. Additionally, we will also touch on boundary conditions and turbulence later in the course. This class has been particularly interesting to me due to the multitude of applications we have discussed; fluid dynamics is central to explaining everything from galaxy formation to weather patterns to fluid power. While many of my other physics courses are extremely abstract, I have enjoyed the ability to see examples of fluids all around me. This distinction has made me contemplate a career path that is more application-based, such as engineering, rather than something more abstract.

Outside of academics, I have learned more about fluid dynamics through research. I have continued my work for the Pattern Formation and Control Laboratory by trying to understand the fluid dynamics of water evaporation from porous surfaces. The results of my project help optimize the drying process for Global Thermostat, a leading direct air capture start-up. Additionally, I will be working with Dr. Quoc Do at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a summer 2022 intern. My project will focus on analyzing, simulating, and predicting Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities (a trademark fluid instability) that occur during inertial confinement nuclear fusion. This project greatly excites me because I will be able to directly apply the fluid knowledge learned during my course to a real project and because it will introduce me to a new type of fluid: plasma.

What are your long-term career plans?

After I complete my undergraduate degree, I hope to continue my education and earn a Ph.D. in either experimental physics or mechanical engineering. My academics, along with my work in the Pattern Formation and Control Lab, have made me very interested in studying fluid dynamics in graduate school. The topic has so many possible applications: everything from fluid power to carbon capture technology to nuclear fusion. This is a field that has many options, and I look forward to continuing to explore it, both in and outside of the classroom.

The Foundation’s goal is to help individuals enrolled in technical colleges and universities pursue their interests in fluid power. The Fluid Power Scholarship application is available from January 2023 until early April 2023. Please share this opportunity within your network. Additionally, if you would like to serve on the application review committee, please contact Eric Pannell at epannell@nfpa.com.

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