Walker Awarded Air Force Young Investigator Grant

Mitchell Walker, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech's Daniel Guggeheim School of Aerospace Engineering, has received a grant for $380,000 through the Air Force's Young Investigator Research Program.

With the grant, funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Walker will focus on annular helicon plasma sources for high thrust-to-power Hall thrusters.

The program is open to scientists and engineers at research institutions across the United States. Those selected, 21 scientists and engineers who submitted winning research proposals, will receive the grants over a 3-year period. Competition for YIP grants is intense. A total of 145 proposals were received in response to the AFOSR broad agency announcement solicitation in major areas of interests to the Air Force. Interest areas include aerospace and materials sciences, chemistry and life sciences, mathematics and information sciences and physics and electronics. AFOSR officials selected proposals based on the evaluation criteria listed in the broad agency announcement.

"AFOSR is proud to participate in the President's National Competitive Initiative by supporting the exciting research of these 21 outstanding scientists and engineers," said Dr. Brendan B. Godfrey, AFOSR director. "The AFOSR Young Investigator Research Program will grow to at least 50 grants over the next 3 years."

The program supports scientists and engineers who have received Ph.D. or equivalent degrees in the last five years. Grant recipients must show exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research. The objective of this program is to foster creative basic research in science and engineering, enhance early career development of outstanding young investigators and increase opportunities for the young investigators to recognize the Air Force mission and the related challenges in science and engineering.

Walker's primary research interests lie in electric propulsion, plasma physics and hypersonic aerodynamics/plasma interaction. He has extensive design and testing experience with Hall thrusters and ion engines. Walker has also performed seminal work in Hall thruster clustering and vacuum chamber facility effects. As founding director of the High-Power Electric Propulsion Laboratory at Georgia Tech, his current research activities involve theoretical and experimental work in advanced spacecraft propulsion systems, diagnostics, plasma physics, helicon plasma sources, Hall thrusters and magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters. He also teaches courses in thermodynamics and compressible flow, jet and rocket propulsion and electric propulsion.