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MU researcher bridges gaps with multiscale engineering

Chanwoo Park

Associate Professor Chanwoo Park said his students often have the same fears he does regarding research — fears of constraints and limitations and everything that could go wrong. “I tell them that research requires risk, so if you don’t have a risky component in your research, then it’s not research. We have to overcome these fears of failure, of the unknown, of wasting money,” Park said. “An engineer has to have a very strong, very brave mind to be able to solve a difficult problem. That’s what I like to see from my students.” Photos by Hannah Sturtecky.

handheld device

A handheld device provides a rudimentary example of controlling heat transfer. Chanwoo Park said he uses this device teaching basic heat transfer to new students.

For MU College of Engineering’s Chanwoo Park, successful research hinges on crossing boundaries.

Park, an associate professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department and director of the Two-Phase Heat Transfer/Sustainable Energy Laboratory, takes a multiscale approach with his research.

Many engineering problems exist across scales. The problem, Park says, is that engineers are typically trained in only one scale, which can be anywhere from large, tangible systems, down to the microbes or even the atomic scale. And he says there are just a handful of engineers in research who can work in more than one.

“The typical approach is to start from one side — a small scale or big scale, but merging those two different scales is so difficult because it requires a new set of skills, knowledge, and all kinds of things,” Park said. But to him, the gap between scales is as much an opportunity as it is a problem.

Park, who has been at MU for a year, received a National Science Foundation CAREER award while he was at the University of Nevada-Reno for his work on multiscale engineering. One subject of his research is two-phase heat transfer such as boiling and condensation, especially in multiscale hierarchical porous media.

As electronic components — for example, computer chips — become smaller, a more integrated circuit is required, and the constantly shrinking component generates a lot of heat from a small area. This creates demanding cooling conditions, where a very efficient design must be implemented to cool the component properly.


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Campus: UMC
Key words: Competitiveness, Engineering, MU Campus, Technology, UM System,
County: Boone