Engineering Researcher Named UA’s Blackmon-Moody Outstanding Professor

Dr. Ajay Agrawal, right, with graduate students Justin Williams, left, and Joseph Meadows examine the noise reduction device, or noise sponge, in 2012.
Dr. Ajay Agrawal, right, with graduate students Justin Williams, left, and Joseph Meadows examine the noise reduction device, or noise sponge, in 2012.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. Ajay K. Agrawal, professor and Robert F. Barfield Endowed Chair in Mechanical Engineering at The University of Alabama, will receive the 2013 Blackmon-Moody Outstanding Professor Award Nov. 15 at the UA President’s Mansion.

Agrawal, whose research expertise include combustion and fluid flow, invented the “noise sponge” concept that uses strong, porous structures to reduce noise generated from gas flow in jet engines, power generating gas turbines and industrial burners without compromising the combustion process.

In addition, Agrawal developed an innovative fuel injector that drastically reduces harmful emissions and allows for clean combustion of fossil and alternative liquid fuels.

A fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Agrawal has been the recipient of several research grants and is the world’s most published author on the topic of rainbow schlieren deflectometry, an optical flow diagnostics technique used to quantitatively measure properties of fluid flows. Agrawal has published more than 100 articles in technical journals and conferences.

Agrawal has also done fundamental and applied research on combustion and fluid flows for NASA, the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy.

At UA, Agrawal has worked to increase the amount of doctoral students in mechanical engineering with the help of two U.S. Department of Education funded Graduate Education in Areas of Need Fellowship awards. In addition, he has so far supervised 14 doctorate and 26 masters’ graduates and guided research for nearly 50 undergraduate students.

Agrawal founded the Institute for Sustainable Energy, ISE, at UA that focuses on domestically-produced energy sources.  ISE  hosted a seminar series that brought acclaimed speakers in combustion and energy fields to the UA campus earlier this year.

Earning his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee, India, in 1980, he obtained his master’s degree at the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, India, in 1983. He received his doctorate from the University of Miami in 1988.

His research specialties include combustion and fluid flow in gas turbine systems; lean premixed, hydrogen-enriched and alternate fuels; combustion inside porous materials, auto-ignition, and combustion control; quantitative Rainbow Schlieren Deflectometry for optical diagnostics; combustion and fluid flow in microgravity; applied computational fluid dynamics and design of thermal fluid systems

The Frederick Moody Blackmon and Sarah McCorkle Moody Outstanding Professor Award is presented annually to a UA faculty member judged to have made extraordinary research contributions that reflect credit on the individual, his or her field of study and on the University. It was created by Frederick Moody Blackmon of Montgomery to honor the memory of his grandmother, Sarah McCorkle Moody of Tuscaloosa.

In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s fully accredited College of Engineering has more than 4,100 students and about 120 faculty. Students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater, Hollings, Portz and Truman scholars.


Adam Jones, engineering public relations, 205/348-6444,; Judah Martin, engineering student writer,


Dr. Ajay K Agrawal,