Aircraft Research at the Cutting Edge

After starting his degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and taking some community college courses, Joseph Borrelli found himself looking for aerospace engineering programs in the Chicago area. He was drawn to the strength of the Illinois Institute of Technology program.

“The aerospace lab courses provide a great hands-on experience for practical skills in electronics and data collection, while the senior capstone courses give you a glimpse into the world of aircraft and spacecraft design,” says Joseph.

He says that he has found that his professors have a strong desire to help students and have gone out of their way to ensure that he succeeds.

“At Illinois Tech, I have had some of the best teachers of my entire academic career,” says Joseph. “I am always so impressed by the depth of knowledge of the faculty.”

As an undergraduate, Joseph was sponsored by the Illinois Space Grant Consortium to do research on active flow control, a novel control technique for aircraft, with Illinois Tech Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering David Williams.

“My work ranges from the design of experimental aircraft test platforms and their active flow control systems, to propulsion testing, to wind tunnel experiments,” says Joseph.

Joseph has twice participated in flight testing of the group’s groundbreaking experimental jet aircraft.

“Contributing to aeronautical history was incredibly fulfilling,” says Joseph. “The ability to be hands-on with the flight testing crews and seeing your hard work take flight is a truly one-of-a-kind and rewarding experience.”

Interested in continuing this work and opening the door for more job opportunities, Joseph decided to continue at Illinois Tech through a master’s program.

As a first-year master’s student, Joseph was awarded the 2022 Fear Endowed Fellowship, which is given annually to a high academic achieving graduate student who is pursuing a master’s degree in the Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering.

Joseph says he plans to pursue a career working on cutting-edge, experimental aircraft projects, adding that he hopes to “make air travel safer, more environmentally friendly, and transition experimental technologies into devices to change the world of aviation.”

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