BOZEMAN -- When water sprays from a hose or gasoline mists into a combusting engine, the interaction between the dispersing fluid and surrounding gas can become so complex that predicting the outcome takes a supercomputer days or even weeks to calculate, according to Montana State University graduate student Kristopher Olshefski.

Olshefski, who has won a prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation, said the award will allow him to be even more ambitious with his research as he starts his doctoral degree in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering in MSU's Norm Asbjornson College of Engineering.

For three years, fellows receive an annual stipend of $34,000, along with $12,000 to help cover tuition and fees, allowing them to focus on research.

"It opens up the opportunity for us to try and do something a little bolder," said Olshefski, whose research adviser is Mark Owkes, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

The research will involve developing new computational methods for modeling the behavior of atomizing jets, which break up liquid into a spray of very small droplets.

The research results, Olshefski said, could help improve vehicle fuel efficiency, create new propulsion systems for spacecraft and improve computer modeling across a range of engineering disciplines.

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