I was always interested in and good at Maths and Science, so was inclined towards a scientific discipline from a young age. My father is a Mechanical Engineer, so I was exposed to the field from early on. In primary school, we learned about Roberta Bondar, the first Canadian woman in space and that’s where I became interested in aerospace engineering. Initially, I wanted to be an astronaut, but I thought aerospace engineering was a good backup plan in case the former didn’t work out! The support and encouragement from my parents and teachers was crucial towards making this decision.
My engineering studies have taken me across the world – my undergraduate degree was from Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada, my Masters in Engineering was from Monash University, Melbourne, Australia and my PhD was from UNSW Canberra, Australia. I joined Oxford University as a researcher in 2013 and it has been an amazing ride so far.
My research expertise is in the field of applied computational fluid dynamics (CFD) of the airflow inside jet engines. I currently research innovative cooling system problems in modern jet engines. I also teach undergraduate students in relevant topics like thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer and mathematics.
I enjoy the fact that I get to solve real problems, that often seem so complicated, but once broken down into smaller problems, can be solved more easily. CFD, alongside experimental data, plays a huge role towards demystifying the underlying flow physics of jet engines. I also love that my research can have a tangible impact on the environmental goals of the aviation industry, like reducing CO2 emissions, and having these new technologies being implemented by our industry partners on their next generation of engines.
Here’s a video I helped direct for last year’s International Women in Engineering Day, where I talk about jet engines and the skills required to be an engineer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymQXX-V41Hg
Here’s an aerospace engineering podcast on my research: http://aerospaceengineeringblog.com/aero-podcast-11-dr-priyanka-dhopade-on-jet-engine-optimisation-and-women-in-engineering/
Here’s an Oxford Sparks animation on my research group (Oxford Thermofluids Institute) and how jet engines work: https://www.oxfordsparks.ox.ac.uk/jet
Here’s a Science Blog interview on my outreach work and the Women in Engineering network at Oxford University: http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/science-blog/women-science-why-female-mentors-matter-engineering
Here’s a BBC article where I, along with a DPhil student from Oxford, were profiled: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-42655179
My research interview with Cogent Engineering Journal: