National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Brendan D. Tracey

Brendan D. TraceyStanford University
Stanford, CA
M.S. in Aerospace Engineering, 2010
Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering, 2013 or 2014

University of Rochester
Rochester, NY
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Minors in French and Mathematics, May 2008

NASA Academy Research Project:
Fundamental Aeronautics/Computational Fluid Dynamics

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Meng Sing Liou


There are two things which most shape my thoughts and actions. The first is a love of learning and mental challenge. This is reflected not only in my studies and research, but also in the activities I enjoy. I am continually fascinated by the complexity and interconnectedness of the world. As a result I try to be as well rounded as I can, not only learning about aeronautics, but other subjects such as politics, economics, history and foreign language. The second thing which motivates me is other people. I do not begin to pretend to know the meaning of life, but most of the meaning in my life comes from my interaction with others. In the future, my ideal job would be one that not only provides me a challenge to overcome, but one which also benefits the lives of others.


Ever since I can remember, I have been interested in flight and space exploration. More recently, I have become very interested in renewable energy technologies and sustainability. After graduating from South Kingstown High School in 2004, I decided to attend the University of Rochester. I graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2008 with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with minors in French and Mathematics. Currently I am a Master’s student at Stanford University, and I plan on continuing on for a PhD. My academic interests are currently aerodynamics, computational fluid dynamics, and optimization with applications to renewable energy technologies and aircraft design.


In the spring of my junior year at the University of Rochester, I worked on the characterization of magnetorheological fluids. Magnetorheological fluids are fluids whose properties change in the presence of a magnetic field. We examined the properties of the fluid under the presence of a continually changing magnetic field.

The following summer, I worked at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi in Bangkok, Thailand as part of the Research Experience for Undergraduates program through the National Science Foundation. I was a research assistant to Teeranoot Chanthasopeephan. There, I worked on developing a refreshable Braille display using shape memory alloys as actuators. Shape memory alloys are materials who can be heat treated to “remember” a shape. The alloy can be deformed, and later reheated to go back to the remembered shape. The idea is to use this memory process to move Braille dots up and down on a reader. While refreshable Braille displays do currently exist, shape memory alloys look to make the systems much cheaper. During my senior year, I again worked on shape memory alloys, this time examining the transient force they exert while heating up.

At Stanford, I am currently researching the optimization of wind farms by examining the choice of turbine type and turbine location in the farm. Additionally, I am in a course this quarter where we are building autonomous aircraft, and we will attempt to set the world record for altitude reached by an aircraft of this weight and control.

Extracurricular Activities

I am an active Juggler, and am currently a member of the Stanford Court Jugglers. As an undergraduate I was a member of the UR Strong Jugglers, and in my senior year I was the vice president of the group. Each year in the spring, the Strong Jugglers put on an hour long show. Some of my fondest memories from Rochester come from preparing for this show.

I have played the oboe since I was in Junior High School, and was in the University of Rochester Symphony Orchestra all four years as an undergraduate. For two of those years, I was also in choral groups at the university. The two biggest performances I was in were singing the Verdi Requiem with several area colleges and the Rochester Philharmonic, and playing Beethoven’s ninth symphony as part of the 50th anniversary of the orchestra.

I am a lover of strategy board games, and one day I hope to get a game of my own published. I have played ice hockey most of my life, and I have also sailed competitively. I enjoy pickup sports of any kind, and in the California weather soccer and volleyball have been the most frequent recently.


This summer I hope to gain valuable experience as part of the academy. I am looking forward to learning more about NASA and the work being done by NASA researchers. I am hoping to better evaluate my research interests, and I hope to leave with a better idea of my future research path.