Since his first visit to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in the eighth grade, Wright State University mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Jacob Jadischke has had a passion for aircraft.
“From that point on, I was enthralled with the notion of designing aircraft and spacecraft, and it was recommended to me that I should pursue engineering as a career,” he said. “I was a bit confused at the time, as I was certain engineers were the people that drove trains, but eventually I figured it out when I got older.”
Jadischke followed that dream to Wright State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in mechanical engineering through a combined B.S./M.S. program and then immediately entered the Ph.D. in Engineering program.
His path, however, was neither straight nor without hurdles and challenges.
A 2017 graduate of Hilliard Darby High School in Hilliard, Ohio, Jadischke was a prolific student taking as many advanced classes as he could while also participating in Project Lead the Way, which sets a curriculum for high schools to offer introductory engineering courses. In addition, he was an avid musician, playing five instruments and participating in marching band. By his senior year, he was the third chair horn player in the Ohio All-State Orchestra.
In the spring of his senior year, Jadischke was diagnosed with a brain tumor and faced a month out of school as well as several months of intense physical rehab while he learned how to walk again.
“The brain tumor that I had grew in my cerebellum, which is responsible for the body’s balance and coordination,” he said. “It was a slow-growing one and quite large, so it was speculated that it was in there for a few years before we caught it. As a result, after it was removed, I lost most of my balance and coordination.”
In spite of all of these setbacks, Jadischke managed to graduate on time.
“I added classes back a week at a time, and ended the year taking government, calculus and physics, and also added band back into the mix,” he said. “This schedule was exhausting. So, I was allowed to head down to the nurse’s station in between classes and take a nap before the next one.”
Jadischke tackled his courses at Wright State with the same level of persistence and drive.
Still determined to work with air and spacecraft, he initially chose aerospace engineering as his major but eventually settled on mechanical engineering after having a discussion with his instructors and peers.
“I was told that mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering are two very similar fields and cover a lot of the same topics, and mechanical engineers are often employed in the aerospace industry,” he said. “However, with an aerospace degree, I would effectively be limiting my career to a single field, whereas a mechanical degree would allow me to work in many different fields.”
It was that advice as well as the opportunities presented to him that made Wright State such an attractive option.
“I needed to look for the college that was going to get me the job where I wanted to be at. I knew that I wanted to work in the aero industry, and working with the DoD was a bit of my dream,” he said.
Choosing Wright State was a no-brainer, he said, when during a tour of the Dayton Campus he could see the close relationship the College of Engineering and Computer Science has with the Air Force Research Laboratory, and through a SOCHE (Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education) program it was clear that he could easily attain an internship on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
True to his goals, he recently presented his research on aircraft energy management, which he has been working on through the Defense Associated Graduate Student Innovators program, during a Wright State Board of Trustees meeting.
Jadischke explained that when an aircraft is flying, the different actions such as turning, increasing speed or activation of a sensor result in power consumption at varying rates.
“The system I am specifically looking at is an aircraft with a series hybrid engine. The series hybrid engine consists of a battery and a gas engine, where the battery powers the aircraft and the gas engine is used to recharge the battery,” he said.
For example, in order for an Amazon delivery drone to fly farther to deliver its package to a residential address, a hybrid engine is installed. This gas engine component is very similar to that of a lawnmower, which may violate local noise ordinances.
“The goal of the research that I am doing is to come up with a way to quickly find the best route and hybrid engine operation plan to get the aircraft from its point of origin to its destination,” he said. “I have defined the best route as being the one that minimizes the energy consumption and have been exploring some maze-solving algorithms and machine-learning techniques to solve for the optimal route of the aircraft.”
He said his interest in this research began with his senior research project in which his team was tasked with designing and building a hybrid delivery drone.
“During this project, I had the opportunity to work directly with researchers at AFRL. I was exposed to controls through these conversations and found that it plays to my strengths with more abstract mathematical system analysis,” he said. “So, when presented the opportunity to continue with a Ph.D. over controls research, it was a very easy decision to make.”
Jadischke said he is grateful for the opportunity to work with world-class researchers as an undergraduate and graduate student.
“Thanks to the relationship between Wright State and AFRL, it has allowed me to pursue graduate studies working on highly relevant topics that will directly benefit the men and women serving this country as well as contribute to the defense of the U.S., and it is not lost on me how lucky I have been to have this opportunity,” he said.
Though he is a few years from completing his Ph.D., he hopes to continue working with AFRL after graduation.
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Distribution is Unlimited. PR-1287 AFRL-2023-1805