Structural Dynamics and Acoustic Systems Lab Performed Testing on Propulsion System

The first Zumwalt-class destroyer Image by Robert F. Bukaty
The first Zumwalt-class destroyer, the largest ever built for the U.S. Navy, heads down the Kennebec River after leaving Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine Monday, Dec. 7, 2015. The ship is headed out to sea for the first time to undergo sea trials.

By Amy Allen

The Structural Dynamics and Acoustic Systems Laboratory (SDASL) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Mechanical Engineering Department was involved in testing the propulsion system for the DDG-1000 in March 2010 on the first units built and again in April 2011. These propulsion systems were built at DRS in Fitchburg, the former Medium Steam Turbine Division of GE; several former UMass Lowell students from the 1990s still work at that location (Michael Pothier and John Seymour both graduates of the MS program in the Modal Analysis program in the Mechanical Engineering Department).

Experimental structural dynamic data was collected to characterize the propulsion system for design and evaluation purposes. The generator-turbine set was about 150 tons and was about 50 foot long by 20 foot high by 12 foot wide. This is an extremely large structure that was subjected to experimental modal testing by SDASL. The test ran for 22 hours non-stop from Thursday monrning to Friday morning followed by data reduction on Friday and Saturday with a report written and submitted to the Navy by Monday morning. 

This was absolutely an outstanding effort by the SDASL team. All three SDASL MS graduate students who worked on that project are now at well-known companies as a result of that test. Chris Warren (MS 2010) went to the Navy at Carderock, Bruce LeBlanc (MS 2012) went to Sandia Labs and David Cloutier (MS 2010) went to ATA Engineering (a premier, internationally recognized, structural dynamics test and analysis consulting firm; Dave also was just involved in testing the James Webb Space Telescope working at ATA).

The work done by the students in the SDASL Lab, under the supervision of Prof. Peter Avitabile, is a testament to the strong structural dynamics program at UMass Lowell where graduate students are involved in cutting edge research and testing on significant engineering projects.