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Hannah Stroud
Hannah Stroud has been awarded the Jill Hruby Fellowship at Sandia National Laboratories. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

When Hannah Stroud worked at Sandia National Laboratories last summer, she realized the Jill Hruby Fellowship that they offer would give her the freedom and funds to manage exciting projects.

Stroud is an aerospace engineering doctoral candidate and a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program Fellow. She received her bachelor’s (‘18) and master’s (‘20) degrees in aerospace engineering from Texas A&M University. She won the Jill Hruby Fellowship on Feb. 2 for proposing methods of surrogate modeling for roughness on reentry vehicles. The fellowship’s mission is to contribute to national security.   

“It's extremely computationally expensive to model the fluid side of these simulations, so I proposed a way to reduce the expense and include things like surface roughness in an ablation model,” Stroud said.

When a vehicle reaches supersonic or hypersonic speeds, it will naturally heat up. Having ways to mitigate that increased temperature within the vehicle is important to protect payloads and sensors. Stroud’s model will enable development of improved thermal protection systems at a reduced cost.

“I'm very excited to be working on a project that I feel ownership of and had such a strong hand in developing,” Stroud said. “It's also an interesting opportunity for me to explore alternate career paths that I wouldn't have necessarily had the opportunity to explore previously.”

Stroud’s current research focuses on fluid-structure and material loss interactions under flow. In other words, she studies how flow over a solid might take away material at the surface via erosion, corrosion or ablation, in combination with how the new shape of the structure changes over the flow field. While material is being removed, the shape of the structure is deforming bending, and changing. She specializes in applying this research in unconventional ways to aerospace engineering tools and skills, and she is seeking to apply her current work to biomedical devices.  

Stroud is a part of a legacy of talented women in engineering and science fields as a result of this fellowship program. Established in 2017 and named after its past director, Jill Hruby, the program prepares fellows to lead technical areas at Sandia and other national laboratories and national security organizations.

Stroud attributes her achievements to the support she has received from not only her loved ones but those at the Sandia National Labs and her mentors at Texas A&M.

“My successes are largely attributed to all of the wonderful mentors that I've had,” Stroud said. “I'm really hopeful that I can be that person to someone in the future.”