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Part Time - Research Assistant - Mechanical Engineering


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The High-Pressure Combustion Laboratory in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Penn State has multiple immediate openings for Summer 2024 research assistants to help with a Missile Defense Agency-sponsored fast-paced research program teamed with an innovative small Pennsylvania business. The overall program goal is to develop a fabrication process to produce highly loaded and high-density solid propellant grains as well as characterize the propellant’s mechanical properties and combustion performance. The part-time research assistants may be assigned tasks related to propellant development (e.g., design, formulation, mixing, and fabrication) and evaluation (e.g., mechanical, chemical, and combustion properties) consistent with their skills and experience, and will assist current experienced staff at their availability and convenience. Work times may be outside of normal business hours. Experimental research will performed at the Yetter Group’s restricted access labs at the University Park campus.

The successful candidate is expected to have skills and knowledge of topics relevant to both theoretical and experimental analysis, fabrication, and evaluation of rocket propellants and propulsion systems in order to be immediately productive in the position. These include:

+ Combustion and propulsion theory

+ Hazard analysis and design of experimental equipment for energetic materials and reactions

+ Fabrication, operation, maintenance, and repair of experimental hardware for propellant and propulsion system evaluation (high pressure vessels, piping/tubing, pressure and vacuum pumps, etc.)

+ Additive manufacturing for prototyping and rapid development of jigs, fixtures, etc.

+ Demonstrated relevant laboratory research experience with hazardous, reactive, and energetic materials including safe lab practices for handling and processing.

+ Knowledge of relevant mechanical, chemical, and combustion property and hazard analysis techniques for solid rocket propellant evaluation

+ Experience in a team-oriented research and development environment.

+ Experience in previous work with the High-Pressure Combustion Laboratory, Combustion Research Laboratory, or a similar laboratory is highly desirable.

Expected education level is M.S or B.S. in a relevant engineering discipline; highly qualified undergraduate students with compensating research experience will also be considered.

In addition to a resume/CV, please provide a short research statement (1 page) summarizing previous experience and expertise with relevant materials and topics. Applications will be evaluated immediately, with selection and hiring of highly qualified candidates made as soon as practicable.

All applicants with relevant skills & experience will be considered, but due to program security restrictions must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident, and able to pass University and federal background checks required for facility access and working with export-controlled information and materials under Missile Defense Agency contract restrictions at Penn State.

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University Park, PA

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