Jeff DefoeJeff Defoe is the newest faculty member in engineering and will focus his research and teaching on aerospace.

New engineering prof ready to take flight

The University’s aerospace engineering program has reached a greater altitude thanks to the addition of a new faculty member with some impressive credentials in the field of turbo machinery and jet engine propulsion.

Jeff Defoe is the newest assistant professor in mechanical, automotive and materials engineering, which introduced a new aerospace option in 2012. He joins the university fresh off a research fellowship at the University of Cambridge, where he was working on gas turbines with industrial partner Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Prior to that, he worked as a post-doctoral associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Gas Turbine Laboratory where he also earned his PhD in 2011.

Born and raised in Belle River, Dr. Defoe said the new appointment provides an opportunity to come home closer to his family as well as the chance to get in on the ground floor of a relatively new program with plenty of potential for growth and development.

“A brand new building didn’t hurt either,” he said of the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation, the $112 million facility that officially opened last year and houses his new office. “But I really feel like the city and the university are on an upswing, so it’s great to be here.”

Defoe started off his post-graduate academic career working with aircraft engines, looking specifically at turbofan engine noise, but eventually moved into industrial turbo machinery, and spent his post-doc studying flow instabilities in a high-pressure water pump for cooling in a nuclear reactor. Most of his research now is focused on maximizing the efficiency of aircraft propulsion by studying the effects of flow distortions in turbofan engines.

“Ultimately you want to minimize the power required to propel the aircraft,” he said. “Utilizing the air that has been slowed down by friction over the fuselage in the engines has the potential to reduce fuel consumption. Yet this air flow is very non-uniform and if you don’t have clean, uniform flows through the engines that can lead to deleterious effects like greater fatigue on certain parts, as well as decreased operating range and performance. Airlines need solutions to these problems to help them meet reduced emissions targets.”

Defoe is trying to find those solutions by developing computer models to analyze and better understand the fundamentals of how turbo-machines like jet engines respond to distorted airflow and how those deleterious effects can be mitigated. Once he’s identified some potential solutions, he hopes to acquire the proper lab equipment he needs to conduct experiments and validate his findings.

When he’s not working on his research, Defoe will be teaching brand new third and fourth year courses on aerospace engineering fundamentals and aerodynamics and performance.

Engineering dean Mehrdad Saif said he’s thrilled to have Defoe join the faculty.

“Canada’s aerospace industry is one of the largest in the world and it’s critical for our university to make new inroads there in order to provide better opportunities for our students,” he said. “Dr. Defoe’s research has real-world applications and great potential for important new research collaborations in the industry. Combined with the curriculum he’s developing, he’s going to be a great addition to engineering here.”