While many students know about the government stoppage, few realize the impact it’s having on campus. Sophomore Felipe Gomez del Campo has been one of many researchers who has experienced the closure first hand as he was forced to halt his project on jet engine efficiency due to the government shutdown.
He was trying to use NASA’s facilities to test his latest prototype.
“It’s something difficult to do at Case since it involves high voltage, fire and all that good stuff,” Gomez del Campo said.
He had met with NASA before to propose the project and to begin working out the details. They had planned to meet again. However, since the shutdown began NASA wasn’t allowed to even respond to its e-mails.
Gomez del Campo was hoping to be able test a second prototype, one that he believes may hit the mark, or at the least provide him with valuable insight. Of course, his design is a lot more complex and time-consuming to create than he makes it sound.
“I’m trying to modify the way fuel burns, using plasma,” he stated simply.
The design would make jet engines more efficient, as they would end up using a smaller amount of fuel. Additionally, the method would make engines safer since the output from them would be steadier.
He elaborated, “[the combustion inside the engine] is less likely to extinguish, which is good if you’re flying.”
Gomez del Campo’s research originated from a high school science fair project in his junior year. He ended up competing at the international level and has kept working with the project ever since. Intel sponsors the international science fair, and many of the projects presented give fruit to discoveries and research.
“It inspired me to continue on,” he said.
Originally from Mexico, Gomez del Campo moved to Miami, Florida, when he was young. He spent a large amount of his time there, including his high school career. Afterward, he came to Case Western Reserve University, bringing his high school project with him.
He joked about the weather in Cleveland. “It’s a pretty big step down, I’m not going to lie.”
Despite being an Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering major, a majority of the science behind his work is above his curricula, and he’s had to learn it on his own. He hopes to continue working in aerospace engineering, but also said he needed the mechanical engineering background, too.
When he’s not swamped with work, he spends his time swimming laps in the pool for the varsity swim team. Otherwise, Gomez del Campo spends his time working for the club he founded and is currently president of, the Case Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers. He also serves as secretary for the Newman Catholic Student Association.
He’s not sure what he wants to do in the future, as there are many options for him that involve a mix of industry, research and graduate school. He does, however hope the shutdown ends soon, giving him a chance to see how well his prototype functions.