Grad Member Spotlight: Heather Wiest

wiest_heatherHeather Wiest

PhD,  Aerospace Engineering

Purdue University

Heather has been a member of SWE since 2007. During her senior year at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, she was treasurer for her SWE section. Once she started graduate school at Purdue in 2011, she became a member of the Leadership Coaching Committee (LCC). In 2012, she was selected to be Team Lead for the Region H LCC coaches and remained in that position until she became the FY17 LCC Chair-Elect. As a professional member, she was involved in the chartering process for the Greater Lafayette Indiana (GLI) SWE section, which celebrated its one year anniversary as an official SWE section this January! Additionally,she is a member of the FY17 Governance Taskforce.

Heather received three fellowships in graduate school: Purdue Doctoral Fellowship (2011), National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (2012), and Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellowship (2016). Locally, she was awarded a Purdue University’s College of Engineering Outstanding Graduate Student Service Award for her involvement as treasurer in three graduate student organizations. Congratulations, Heather, on all you’ve accomplished! Keep up the great work!

What is your degree program (MS/PhD, department)? When do you expect to graduate?

I successfully defended my PhD dissertation in December! I received my Masters from Purdue in August 2013. Both graduate degrees are in Aerospace Engineering.

Give a brief explanation of your research.
My area of study within Aerospace Engineering is Propulsion. My research focuses on experimental gas turbine combustion and fuel sprays. For my PhD, I studied a liquid jet in crossflow with increasingly elevated fuel temperatures. The liquid jet in crossflow is a method of fuel injection found in gas turbine combustors, turbojet afterburners, scramjet/ramjet engines, and rotating detonation engines, and higher temperature fuels can occur in advanced aircraft that use fuel as a heat sink for thermal management purposes. By studying this flow field with high speed imaging, variations in the breakup of the liquid jet due to increasing fuel temperatures can be analyzed.

What do you hope to do with your degree? What are your career goals?
I’m heading off to Cape Canaveral, FL to work for Blue Origin as a Test Facilities Design Engineer. Basically, I’m a plumber for rockets. I will help to design the fluid systems used in testing their engines and launching their rockets. Blue Origin is a private spaceflight company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos with the goal of creating greater human access to space at lower costs and with increased reliability.

What are some of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I love playing random sports. I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I’m not at a university playing intramurals like wallyball, inner tube water polo, or dodgeball! I also really like board games. My current favorite is 7 Wonders.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I really enjoy visiting national parks! I have a National Park Passport where I collect cancellation stamps that serve as a record of all the parks I’ve visited. I currently have about 60 stamps, and I hope that finally being done with school will give me the opportunity to visit more national parks!

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