Research Team

Faculty

Christopher Combs

Dr. Combs is the Dee Howard Endowed Assistant Professor in Aerodynamics in the UTSA Department of Mechanical Engineering. Prior to starting at UTSA, Dr. Combs worked as a Research Assistant Professor at The University of Tennessee Space Institute. His primary area of research interest is in the development and application of non-intrusive diagnostic techniques for compressible flows and he also has extensive experience in investigations of hypersonic boundary layer and SWBLI flow physics. Dr. Combs is active with AIAA, ASME, and APS and is a current member of the AIAA Aerodynamic Measurement Technology Technical Committee.

 

E-mail: ccombs@utsa.edu
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Graduate Students

Angelina Andrade

Angelina was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. She attended the University of North Texas from Fall 2016 to Fall 2019 and graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical and Energy Engineering. Angelina is now a graduate student at UTSA pursuing an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a thermal and fluid system concentration. Through her graduate school experience Angelina aspires to gain more knowledge and skills in aerodynamics and propulsion systems. In her spare time she volunteers as a tutor to help middle and high school students understand math concepts.

Mark Anguiano

Mark received his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from UTSA in 2019 and is now pursuing a Master’s degree with a concentration in thermal and fluid systems. Mark will be part of the team developing a power-generation loop that uses supercritical CO2 as the working fluid. His work in the Rotating Machinery Dynamics section at SwRI also gives him the opportunity to apply his studies directly to the engineering field.

Diego Bass

Born and raised in San Antonio, TX, Diego received his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from UTSA in the spring of 2020. Under the guidance of Dr. Combs, he is now pursuing a master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in thermal and fluid systems. Along with pursuing his master’s degree, Diego will be assisting in the power generation project that utilizes supercritical CO2 as the working fluid in the system. Diego aspires to employ his engineering knowledge and skills in his dream job, which stems from his interests in the areas of aerospace and/or power generation.

Stephanie Cottier

Stephanie completed her Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at UTSA in 2013. Having developed a test stand for Brayton cycle analysis for her capstone project, she went on to design and manufacture tooling to aid in the maintenance of Rolls Royce T-56 turboprop engines at StandardAero in San Antonio. In 2019 she graduated from UTSA with a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, where her research focused on analysis of shock-wave/boundary-layer interactions. Her research on SPOD analysis of SWBLIs won her first place in the AIAA International Student Competition held during the 2020 SciTech Forum. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at UTSA and teaches engineering for the Alamo Colleges. In her spare time she enjoys creative pursuits, movies, traveling, hiking and camping, and rescuing animals. She does not sleep.

Valeria Delgado

Valeria was born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. She came to UTSA to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. While studying as an undergrad, she was involved in the Society of Automotive Engineers and served as aerodynamics lead her senior year. Upon graduating in the Spring of 2020, she transitioned into becoming a Graduate Research Assistant in the Combs Hypersonics Laboratory, contributing to the first diaphragm rupture tests and the wind tunnel virtual interface. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering concentrating in Fluids and Thermal Systems under the mentorship of Dr. Combs.

Prince Dukuze

Prince received his undergraduate degree from UTSA in 2015 with a B.S in Mechanical Engineering.  As an undergraduate research assistant, Prince assisted in the research of the effects of the atmospheric boundary layer on wind turbines. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and assisting with the UTSA hypersonic wind tunnel project.

 

E-mail: prince.dukuze@utsa.edu
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Matt Garcia

Matt Garcia recently graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in May 2020. He will further his education and pursue a PhD in mechanical engineering while conducting research in the Combs Hypersonics Lab. Matt aspires to become a pilot to apply his knowledge in the aviation sector. He plans to merge his engineering and aviation background to better flight systems and develop flight learning programs that are easily accessible to the general public

Emilio Hernandez

Emilio completed his bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin in 2014. He went on to develop drone solutions for an aerial imaging company and worked as a data engineer specializing in image processing for terrain model creation. His current research interest is in studying supercritical carbon dioxide flows using advanced visualization techniques to better understand the fluid dynamics of supercritical systems and ultimately aid the research effort aimed at designing more efficient thermodynamic cycles for energy production. He is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering while providing assistance in the UTSA Hypersonic Laboratory.

 

E-mail: lvw157@my.utsa.edu
LinkedIn | CV

Eugene Hoffman

Eugene Hoffman was born in Accra, Ghana and received his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Evansville in 2016. His past research experience involves the proof of concept and practical applications of a two loop thermosiphon system. His current research interests include experimental supersonic and hypersonic aerodynamics as well as combustion and laser diagnostics.

Dean Kaialau

Dean was born and raised in Yuba City, CA, where he graduated high school and enlisted in the military in 2004. After serving for over 11 years as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician, he was medically retired and returned to school in 2016. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from UTSA in the Spring of 2020. During his time as an undergraduate at UTSA, Dean was able to work on the driver tube section of UTSA’s Mach 7 Wind Tunnel project and develop a sub-scale sCO2 power generation system for his capstone senior design project. Dean plans on gaining further experience in experimental research while continuing his education at UTSA. He is currently working on research related to sCO2 power generation systems and rotating detonation engines.

Elijah LaLonde

Elijah LaLonde was born in Alvin, Texas and earned his B.S. in physics, graduating Summa Cum Laude in 2018 from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. He conducted undergraduate research in photovoltaics at Texas State University from the summer of 2018 until graduating at the end of 2018. After finishing his undergraduate studies, he took a year to continue his research in photovoltaics and explore his interests in Electromagnetic Field Theory and Fluid Dynamics. In the fall of 2020, he began his Ph.D. studies in Mechanical Engineering at UTSA as a part of the Combs research group.

Raj Patel

Raj was born in India and immigrated to the United States while he was in high school. Raj graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in May 2020. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Thermal and Fluids Systems. He is also assisting Dr. Combs with the research and development of a Supercritical Carbon Dioxide system as an alternative to steam for electrical power generation as a Graduate Research Assistant. Outside of school and work, Raj enjoys traveling around the country. Raj also enjoys keeping up with all the news and updates in the aerospace industry and he hopes to work in the field upon graduation.

 

E-mail: raj.patel@utsa.edu
LinkedIn | CV

Kenneth Perez

Kenneth Perez received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas at San Antonio in May 2016. He will further his education and pursue a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering with a concentration in Thermal & Fluid Systems.  As a member of the Hypersonic Wind Tunnel Lab he hopes his background in HVAC can be used to bring a unique perspective to ongoing research activities. Kenneth aspires to become a propulsion engineer for a major aerospace company upon graduation. Outside of work he enjoys exercising, hiking, biking, hanging out with friends, and learning anything dealing with air-breathing engines and rockets.

Jose Rodriguez

Jose M. Rodriguez is a Senior Staff Mechanical Engineer for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. Prior to his career in engineering, Jose was an aircraft technician and holds an FAA Airframe and Powerplant Certification. Jose also served as an enlisted member of the U.S. Navy for 9 years. Jose holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Aeronautical Science and Aerospace Engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Jose is currently pursuing his Ph.D. at The University of Texas at San Antonio with a focus on SWBLI. 

E-mail: Jose.Rodriguez4@UTSA.edu
LinkedIn | CV

Undergraduate Students

Ivana Chen

Ivana Chen is a third year undergraduate student at UTSA majoring in Mechanical Engineering. She joined Dr. Combs’ research lab in Summer 2020 and is currently working on a project designing a Pitot probe for the UTSA hypersonic wind tunnel. After graduation, Ivana hopes to continue learning and to work in the field of propulsion systems. Aside from engineering, she enjoys spending her free time swimming, reading, and surfing.

Hayden Bilbo

Hayden is currently pursuing a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a certificate in Aerospace Engineering at UTSA with a projected graduation date of Spring 2022. After graduation he plans on pursuing a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering. His interests in engineering and aerospace applications have led to internships linked to aviation and spacecraft for the last three years. This includes being accepted into Purdue’s 2020 SURF program (now 2021), where he will help develop methodologies for 3D printing thermodynamically optimized solid propellants. Working as a member of the Combs research group, Hayden will use his knowledge and interests to assist in pushing the frontier of aerospace research at UTSA.
Isagani Luistro

 

Isagani was born in Manila, Philippines and raised in McAllen, Texas. He is currently pursuing a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a certificate in Aerospace Engineering at UTSA with a projected graduation date of Spring 2022. After graduation Isagani plans on working in the aerospace industry and pursuing a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering.

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Justin Torbey

Justn Torbey is originally from Pennsylvania but while serving in the United States Marine Corps, fell in love with Texas. Justin has always liked designing and building projects, so pursuing an engineering career was a natural fit. He is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and hopes to pursue a post-graduate degree. Justin would like to someday work on projects involving space exploration, so getting a start on research at UTSA will help build the skills needed to work in that field. When not doing schoolwork, Justin can be found building his tiny house or working on other crazy projects.

E-mail: oes174@my.utsa.edu
LinkedIn

Noor Bokhari

Noor is originally from Irvine, CA and moved to Houston, TX when she was 15. She is in the process of getting her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, along with a minor in computer science. In the future, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in mechanical engineering (with a concentration in the vast field of thermodynamics research). She hopes to work in the energy or aerospace industry. Noor is currently assisting with research involving power generation using supercritical carbon dioxide.

LinkedIn

Christopher Tremblay

Christopher was born in Stamford, CT and raised in Naples, FL. He attended Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, FL before transferring to UTSA in 2019.  He is a senior Mechanical Engineering major with an expected graduation date of December 2021. Christopher joined Dr. Combs’ research lab in the fall of 2020 to help work on the sCO2 power generation project. He plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Mechanical or Aerospace engineering upon graduation.

Naz Khan

Naz Khan is in her second year pursuing a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a certificate in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She is interested in astrophysics and space. Naz’s plans include pursuing a Master’s degree in Aerospace or Astrophysics. She is currently working on the instrumentation for the supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) system. Naz’s hobbies include gaming, writing, and dancing.

Gisselle Contreras

Gisselle is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and is planning on graduating in Fall 2021. As an undergrad she is the Fundraising Coordinator in the Latin Dance Society and the Project Manager in Engineers without Borders. She has recently been given the opportunity to perform research under the guidance of Dr. Combs. After graduating, Gisselle plans on pursuing a career in the automotive and/or defense industry.

Email: hsk674@my.utsa.edu

Senior Design Team

J.A.C.L. Engineering Solutions 

Christopher Tomasi
Ashley Foster
Justin Bustillo
Luis Rivas

Alumni

Graduate: Stephanie Cottier (MS, ’19); Prince Dukuze (MS, ’20)

Undergraduate: George Gonzalez (BS ’19, Boeing), DJ Bell (BS ’19, Boeing), Christopher Kunz (BS ’19, Boeing), Anmar Jabbar (BS ’19, Pike Corp.), Jordan Foster (BS ’20, L3 Harris), Dean Kaialau (BS ’20), Tomas Bello (BS ’20, HEB), Diana Magana (BS ’20, HEB), Raj Patel (BS ’20), Matt Garcia (BS ’20), Michael Rittenberry (BS ’20), Natasia Upadhaya (BS ’20)