The University of Massachusetts Amherst


Since his arrival as an assistant professor at UMass Amherst in 2000, Professor David Schmidt of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department has achieved many lofty goals as teacher, student advisor, administrator, and head of the Multiphase Flow Simulation Laboratory. In fact, to detail all of Schmidt’s major accomplishments would be impossible in so brief an article as this.

The clearest confirmations of Schmidt’s success are such honors as the Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award from the Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE), the College of Engineering Outstanding Teacher Award, the student-selected Mechanical Engineering Professor of the Year Award and the student-elected MIE Advisor of the Year Award (twice), an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, the SAE Long-time Member Service Award, a Fellowship from the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Bologna, and his selection as an SAE Fellow. And those honors represent only a sampling of the 22 major awards and other honors bestowed on Schmidt.

As a key administrator, Schmidt also served for four years as the MIE Graduate Program Director.

But Schmidt is perhaps best recognized as a pioneering researcher. As he explains about his fields of research, which include sprays, cavitation, and other multiphase flows, “My passions are clean energy and accelerating simulation through machine learning.”

Schmidt summarizes the work in his lab this way: “We seek to improve the performance and reduce the emissions of modern power systems by better understanding of the multiphase flows.”

Schmidt’s groundbreaking research has garnered at least 55 external grants, 76 journal publications, and 99 conference publications. That research has also produced a 2021 U.S. patent for “Active Cooling of Cold-spray Nozzles by Compressed Gas Expansion,” held jointly with the Army Research Laboratory by Schmidt, Jim Watkins, Jacobo Morere Rodriguez, and Victor Champagne.

As a backstory to his research, Schmidt observes on his lab’s website that “Power is fundamental to the existence of modern society. Without power, you couldn't be reading this web page, for example. However, the environmental consequences of our current methods of power generation are unsustainable.”

Schmidt goes on to explain that his studies of sprays, cavitation, and other multiphase flows “combine the intellectual challenge of multiple phenomena interacting at multiple scales and provide the long-term benefits to society of cleaner and more efficient power.”

According to Schmidt, the research in his lab has other major applications, too. As one example, he says, “For diesel and jet engines, the spray quality has a tremendous impact on the emissions. We also simulate sprays in rockets, where there is a great difficulty predicting and controlling the combustion process.” 

Another critical application of his research is wind energy. As Schmidt notes, “Offshore wind energy is a particularly engaging research topic. The waters off the coast of New England offer good wind resources and close proximity to population centers. With our lab's emphasis on waves and fluid-structure interaction, we provide new predictive methods for the design process.”

One proof of the enduring value of Schmidt's research is the profuse grant support it has received over the years.  His Multiphase Flow Simulation Laboratory has participated in an impressive total of more than $10 million of research projects.

Before arriving at UMass Amherst, Schmidt served as a post-doctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, after earning his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, his M.S. at Stanford University, and his B.S. at North Carolina State University. (August 2023)

Article posted in Faculty