I need some help with a research project

I am trying to get some feedback from people in the aerospace industry
or engineering in general, to help get readmitted to the University of
Texas at Austin Aerospace Engineering Ph.D program. All you need to do
to help me is to answer the following short questionare and send your
comments to the University:
Consider the following facts:
(1) The minimum energy interplanetary trajectory is called a Hohmann
Transfer. This orbit is characterized by a specific total amount of
fuel used and the total time of flight. Those two parapeters alone
define the minimum trajectory between any two given planets.
(2) The Earth to Mars trajectory is an extremely difficult problem to
solve numerically and is usually solved by a genetic algorithm, which
generates many random trajectories; chooses the best solution; then
generates another family of trajectories; etc, until a solution is
(3) Non linear problems are typically solved by using a third party
optimization routine to generate the best solution - i.e. in addition
to the genetic algorithm, which is itself operated by the optimization
routine with each trial.
Now consider if a computer optimization of the Earth to Mars trajectory
would be worthwile if:
(1) It finds a trajectory from Earth to Mars that uses 25% less fuel
than the Hohmann Transfer, arriving at Mars in the Hohmann Transfer
time of flight; OR arrives 30 days faster than a Hohmann Transfer using
the Hohmann Transfer amount of fuel. The routine itself has 24 degrees
of freedom, which are solved simultaneously.
(2) The computer program arrives at a solution without use of a genetic
algorithm (and is fully integrated from start to finish in a seamless
path; i.e. there are no tricks), is less than 1000 lines long, uses a
varuable step Runge Kutta 7/8 integrator and is accurate to at least 10
significant digits.
(3) The optimal solution of (1) is achieved without the use of a third
party optimization routine; although use of same would presumable
generate an even better solution.
Please state whether or not you believe this would be a good research
project and, if done to completion, would be adequate for a graduate
research project.
Send your answers to snipped-for-privacy@mail.utexas.edu which is Dr. Lee Smith, JP
the UT Austin Vice President for Legal Affairs.
Thanks very much!
WH Clark
Reply to
BTU Bill
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To sum it up, you're asking if writing less than a thousand lines of code is worthy of a Phd from the University of Texas? From what I know about Texas, 1000 lines of code is 100X overkill, but for the rest of the world, you'll need to do a bit more. ;-)
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If you have been removed from a PhD program, I don't think asking on non-specialists newsgroups for opinions from people in "engineering in general" is the right way to do it.
It's also not clear at what point you have been removed. It is better to remove someone after one year than to let them slog it out for 3-5 years, then run out of money, but still not to get a PhD.
You really need the opinion of academics at other universities in that area.
I'm not an expert in the field, and if I was, you can't judge the worth of a PhD by what you have described, so I will not bother. But here are my thoughts, for what they are worth.
If your research found a way of getting to mars using 25% less fuel than any other know way, then my engineering skills tell me that would warrant a PhD. And I can't see anyone trying to remove you from a PhD program if you had a reasonable chance of being able to do that to completion.
But it seems to me you claim to know too much about it. You know how many lines of code it is, how accurate it is, how many variables it solves for. So what is there to research?
PhD students start by having very little idea about what they are going to be doing. There is the joke, which i am sure many PhDs have heard, that at the beggining you start off knowing a little about a lot of things. As you progress, you learn more about a smaller areas. Finally you end up knowing everything there is to know about nothing.
It is not clear what point you are at.
There is a lot of meters between here and mars, and an error of 1 part in 10^10 would mean the difference between landing safely and missing the planet I suspect.
A PhD is not determined by the number of lines of code written. Nobody counts.
If you are starting, and have all this knowledge about exactly what the results will be, then you are definitely have a problem.
If you have submitted and it can do all this, then nobody would remove you from a PhD program. More like add you to a list of candidates for a noble prize.
A few things just do not add up But you are not going about it the right way.
Just be aware, that if you manage to get readmitted, and your supervisor has asked that you leave, you would need to change supervisors. The relationship between a PhD student and is supervisor is very important, and if you have had this amount of conflict, it is difficult to see how you would ever manage to work together properly.
But remember, it is far better to leave after a year without getting a PhD than to carry on for 3-5 years or whatever and still not get one.
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