Ali Rangwala’s Lab Students

Scott Rockwell

Scott received his BS degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Scott has worked as an undergraduate researcher at NIST for two summers (2005 and 2007). His MS thesis research was  based on measuring fire induced flow velocities using Cross Correlation Velocimetry (CCV).

His PhD research involves a study related to dust deflagrations. More specifically he is investigating the influence of micron sized dust particles (coal, PMMA, corn starch) on the turbulent burning velocity of methane-air flames. More details can be found on his website.

The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbours, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all. - Voltaire

Kulbhushan Joshi

Kulbhushan received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from India. He has a MS from North Eastern University and specializes in coal combustion. He is currently working on understanding coal dust ignition and explosion hazards associated with combustible dusts.


  1. 1.K. A. Joshi, V. Raghavan, and A. S Rangwala, "An Experimental Study of           Coal Dust Ignition in Wedge Shaped Hot Plate Configurations," Comb. Flame, 2011 (accepted for pub) CNF_Kulu.pdf

Ph.D. Students

Jeremiah Crocker

Jeremiah graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an MS in FPE (2007) from WPI. As part of his MS thesis, Jeremiah investigated the effect of water sprinkler sprays on flow of hot gasses out of a doorway. He used room geometry similar to the UL 1626 configuration. His M.S. thesis is sponsored by Tyco Fire and Security. Jeremiah is currently employed at Tyco Fire and Security, Cranston RI.


1. J. P. Crocker, A. S. Rangwala, N. A, Dembsey, and D. J. Le Blanc, “The Effect of Sprinkler Spray on Fire Induced Doorway Flows: New Tools for Performance Based Design,” Fire Tech., Vol. 46 (2), 347-362, 2010. Crocker Fire Technology.pdf

M.S. Students

Todd Hetrick

Todd began at WPI as a BS/MS student in ME/FPE. He has worked in the WPI Fire Lab; charged with updating the Cone Calorimeter VI and generating the initial Fire Propagation Apparatus VI using LABVIEW. In the Spring of 2006 he left WPI to intern with 3M Company in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where he furthered product development and applications for the clean extinguishing agent Novec 1230.

Todd's research is based on hold time calculation methodologies for total flooding clean extinguishing agents. As part of this effort 39 tests were completed in a 100 cubic meter enclosure. Typical-use concentrations of various clean agents were flooded into this test enclosure and allowed to gradually 'drain'. The results of these experiments were used to validate various hold time models available through published building codes. Todd finished his MS thesis in the in department of Fire Protection Engineering in Oct 2008 and currently works for Exponent, Chicago.


1. T. M. Hetrick and A. S. Rangwala, “Development and Validation of a  Modified Hold Time Model for Total Flooding Fire Suppression,” Fire Safety Journal, Vol. 45 (1), 12-20, 2010. Hetrick_FSJ.pdf

Haejun Park

Haejun worked on an independent study on analyzing coal dust ignition. An abstract of a paper(under review) submitted to J. Haz. Materials can be found here.

Students in Independent Study Projects 

Kristopher Overholt

Kristopher obtained his B.S. degree in Fire Protection Engineering Technology from the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD). Kristopher worked as an undergraduate researcher on Fire Dynamics Simulator at NIST in the summer of 2007.

His current research involves small-scale compartment commodity testing and experimental B-number research. More details can be seen  on his small-scale compartment testing or on other work at his website.


1.K. Overholt, M. J. Gollner, A. S. Rangwala, J. Perricone, and F. A. Williams, “Warehouse Commodity Classification from Fundamental Principles. Part II: Flame Heights and Flame Spread Rates,” Fire Safety Journal, Vol. 46 (6), pp 317-329, 2011. Overholt_FSJ_paper_els.pdf

Jay Brown and Freddy Jervis

Jay and Freddy worked on an independent study (Spring 2007, and Summer 2007) in the Fire Science Laboratory on estimating a critical B-number of PMMA using the Fire Propagation Apparatus (FPA). The project is co advised by  Prof. Nick Dembsey.

Jay received his MS in Fire Protection Engineering from WPI and is currently working at Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Freddy received a BS-MS degree in Mechanical Engineering from WPI and is currently pursuing his PhD at U. Edinburgh, UK. Poster presented at the Graduate Research Achievement Day (GRAD) 2007.

Rahul Terdalkar

Rahul worked on an independent study project to model dust ignition in a three dimensional geometry. The details of his project can be found here. He is currently working as a research engineer at Alstom Power as a Research and Development Engineer.

Jonathan Levin

Jonathan received his BS in Chemical Engineering from WPI. He is currently enrolled in the MS program in FPE. Jonathan has compared the activation energy of coal dust using DSC, TGA measurements with a the hot plate apparatus used in the ASTM E119 standard.

His work was recently presented as a poster in the 2007 ASEE Student Projects Poster Competition held at the University of Rhode Island Kingston, RI. The poster can be seen here.

Kathryn Hall

Kathryn worked on a FDS study to model transport of Carbon Monoxide in a townhouse. Her project was co-advised by Dr. Scott Davis at Exponent, Natick.

Peter Bellino

Peter studied the use of light extinction (light emitting diode - photo detector setup) to develop a probe capable of measuring the concentration of dust. The probe design is similar to that used by NIOSH.

Cedric Venet

Cedric is an exchange student from the University of Marsielle, France and worked with me during Summer 2008. He constructed a premixed burner to analyze the burning of premixed dust-air flame. A summary of his experimental work can be found here.

Cecilia Florit

Cecilia is an exchange student from the University of Marsielle, France and worked with me during Summer 2008. Her project involved studying flame propagation on corrugated cardboard. A summary of her experimental work can be found here.

Xing Wei 

Xing is a student in the department of ECE at WPI. Xing's project involved programming a DSP chip for cross correlating signals from thermocouples. He worked with Scott Rockwell during summer 2008 to analyze the thermocouple signals used in cross correlation velocimetry.

The aim of this study is to calculate the laminar burning velocity of a premixed methane-air flame using two different experimental methods: the slot burner technique and the Bunsen burner technique. In both experiments flame angle and flame area were estimated by using a digital camera and computer software.

The gas flow rates were measured using a flow meter. Results were compared against pre-existing burning velocity data and the experimental design adjusted to obtain optimal results. Discussed in this paper are the factors that influence the measurement of laminar burning velocity, including equivalency ratio, geometry of the burner, and influence of flame stretch.

  Major Qualifying Projects (MQP) 

Judy Buffam, Kevin Cox, and Hallie Schiess (2007)

Kevin and Andrew are continuing Cedric's work, where there are using the burner design to analyze the combustion of PMMA dust and air.

Kevin Black and Andrew Schwalbenberg (2008)

Alexander and John are building a hot surface ignition test apparatus (ASTM E2021) capable of testing combustible dusts trapped in a corners and wedges.

Alexander Andrews and John Desrosier (2008)

Ryan Hartwell (2008)

Ryan is studying the possible use of using F-500 as a flame retardant for fire fighter clothing.

Students are welcome to apply for independent study projects. If interested please send an email to

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Brian Elias

Brian’s research involves investigating the vapor components and concentrations that collect in a portable gasoline container.  Specifically, he is working to characterize the conditions that cause a flammable mixture to develop in the vapor space above the gasoline.  When these conditions exist, a flame may be able to propagate from the pouring gas stream into the container causing an explosion.

Dan Lampke, James Bassett and Michael Oshetsky (2009)

The aim of this study is to cross correlate the signal between two diode-laser beams in a flow seeded with smoke particles to obtain the flow velocity.

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Combustion Lab Website

Yanxuan Xie

Yanxuan obtained his B.S. degree in Civil Engineering Technology from WPI. As part of his MS thesis, Simon developed a novel premixed burner that is capable of burning a mixture of dust particles and air. His research involves investigating the influence of micron sized coal dust particles (25 - 90 micron) at different concentrations on the laminar burning velocity of a lean premixed methane air flame.


1. Y., Xie, V., Raghavan, A. S., Rangwala, “Naturally Entraining Solid Particle Injector,” Powder Technology, 2011 (accepted for pub).Xie_powder_tech.pdf