Parks College Parachute Research Group

PRG Members




Research and Founding members

Jean Potvin
Gary Peek

College/Administrative members

Brenda Rainey
Frank Coffey

Emeritus and Student Emeritus members

Jason Papke
Roberto Montanez
Lola Esteve
Ty Perschbacher
Mitch Barklage
Christine Kalcic
Becky Brocato
Carlos Manglano
Daniel Garcia
Rodney Kutz
Benjamin Yavitz
Charisse Jackson
Eric Brighton
Tobias Hawthorne



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Dr. Jean Potvin

Physics Professor
Parks College of Engineering and Aviation
Saint Louis University

Jean Potvin has B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Physics from Universite Laval, Quebec City, Canada and a physics Ph. D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder CO. He was a Research Associate at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton NY, and a joint postdoctoral fellow at Boston University, Boston MA and Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada. He has taught Physics, Computer Programming and Meteorology at Parks College of Saint Louis University since 1991. His present research interests include the study of the aero-physics of parachute inflation and flight. He is a member of the National Parachute Technology Council, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Physical Society and the American Meteorological Society. Dr. Potvin is also a U.S. Parachute Association- rated static line Instructor an FAA Senior Parachute Rigger, and has made over 2100 sport and research parachute jumps since 1992.


A list of papers presented by Dr. Potvin and other information can be found on his Physics Department web page.

Dr. Jean Potvin
College of Arts and Science
Department of Physics
Saint Louis, MO
63103

potvinj@slu.edu
Phone: (314) 977-8424
FAX: (314) 977-1890



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Gary Peek

Computer and Electronics Consultant

My contribution to the PRG consists of several jumping and non-jumping activities. I am the designer of the instrumentation electronics and data acquisition computer hardware and software used by the Group. (Some of this instrumentation is now available as commercial products from Industrologic, Inc., an electronics company I founded.)

I also do mechanical design and parachute rigging work related to the instrumentation, both when used in the lab or wind tunnel, and when jumping.

One of my most important jobs is to insure that the instrumentation that will be used during live jumps is in fact "jumpable", that is, that the instrumentation remains safe for a skydiver to use in all possible jump situations, and that the instrumentation is reliable and easy to use both during and after the jump, when downloading of the data is critical.

Other work for the PRG:


Gary Peek
Industrologic, Inc.
3201 Highgate Lane
St. Charles, MO
63301
(636) 723-4000

peek@industrologic.com




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Jason Papke

Consultant


I assist the PCPRG with test drops and data analysis. I originally joined the team to provide video and photographic services. My work with Dr. Potvin and Gary Peek has provided me a unique opportunity to combine my love of science with my love of all things parachute.

I am an active USPA member with over 1200 sport jumps and hold both static-line and tandem instructor ratings. I have also made 21 military jumps while stationed with the SOCEUR Signal Detachment(SSD) Army Airborne.

Jason Papke
Dept. of Pharm/Phys Science
St. Louis University
1402 S. Grand Blvd
St. Louis, MO 63104
(314) 977-6484

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Brenda Rainey

Chief Financial Officer


I make sure that the PRG members do not overspend their budget. I think parachutes are neat, but I'm not so sure about those parachutists...

I am a St. Louis Blues hockey fan and can only dream about the year when they will bring the Stanley Cup to St. Louis.

Brenda Rainey

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Frank Coffey

Wind tunnel hardware guru


I help and advise our PRG students and faculty in the use of the wind tunnel and its related equipment. It is my job to make sure they don't destroy the lab.....

Frank Coffey

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Ty A Perschbacher

Physics graduate
Department of Physics
Parks College of Engineering and Aviation
Saint Louis University

Activities and memberships:

Basically, my contribution to the PRG deals with the inflation of the parachute, the reefing system that controls the inflation, and ultimately the speed and size of the parachute during this short critical time period. Currently I am building a computer program written in Fortran-90 that simulates the opening of a reefed parachute. So far, this program covers square and round parachutes, and is a relatively complex program. The mathematical equations that govern the inflation of a parachute result in second order differential equations of a non-linear fashion which is difficult to solve numerically. Furthermore, we are forced to deal with changing coefficients that change with the change in speed and size of the parachute which only adds to the complexity.

What does a simulation of the dynamics of the inflation of a reefed parachute provide? Once one can adequately describe the motion of the slider during the inflation of the parachute, and how a change in the position of the slider affects the opening time, maximum deceleration, glide, lift, etc. slider systems can be devised that govern the flight of the parachute and load.

Currently, the simulation is still in the testing phase. Much work need to be done to determine whether the computer model adequately describes the actual dynamics of a parachute under the specified conditions.

But nobody said it would be easy!

(For more details about the project see my paper on this topic.)

P.S. Ty graduated in December 1999 and is now a U.S.A.F. officer working at Wright Patterson AFB.

Ty A Perschbacher




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Lola Esteve

Masters degree Student in Aerospace Engineering
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Parks College of Engineering and Aviation
Saint Louis University


Hello! My name is Maria Dolores Esteve but everybody calls me Lola. I am a graduate student at Parks College of Saint Louis University. I am from Madrid Spain and came to the U.S. to finish my Aerospace Engineering Bachelor degree, but when I had completed it, I decided to stay and pursue my Masters degree as well.

When I began the Masters program last January I had the opportunity to join the parachute research group at the university. At the beginning I did not know anything about parachutes, but reading books and papers, and working on it has made me learn a lot. My job is to test parachutes in the subsonic wind tunnel in order to know the value of the drag force coefficient involved while the parachute is descending. I have designed a mounting system that allows the parachutes to fly in the wind tunnel, and have also done all of the manufacturing of this structure. At this point we are now ready for the testing phase, hoping to get the results we have previously calculated.

I have co-authored two papers on this research, paper 1, and paper 2.

P.S. Lola graduated in May 1999 as has returned to her home country.

Lola Esteve




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Roberto Montanez

Aerospace Engineering graduate
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Parks College of Engineering and Aviation
Saint Louis University


Roberto worked for the Group during the 1997 academic year working on the design and data analysis of wind tunnel parachute deployment and inflation experiments.

From 1998 to 2001 Roberto worked for Irvin Aerospace, Inc. in Santa Anna, California. Irvin Aerospace is a major government contractor in the development and manufacture of parachute systems.

Roberto now works for Butler Aerospace Technology, Inc. in Roanoke, VA. Butler Aerospace is another well known parachute manufacturer and developer.

Roberto is also now President of the Parachute Industry Association.

Roberto Montanez

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Becky Brocato

Undergraduate Student in Aerospace Engineering
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Parks College of Engineering and Aviation
Saint Louis University


Hi, my name is Becky Brocato and I am a junior from Louisiana working toward a degree in aerospace engineering. I am a "D" licensed skydiver and a USPA rated Static Line Jumpmaster. I started skydiving in the summer of '98 which sparked my interest in the parachute research group. My knowledge of parachutes was limited to the sport chutes that I had jumped. However, through working with the group I have learned a lot. My job is to assist Dr. Potvin in the subsonic windtunnel with the testing and documentation of model parachutes. I also do the calculations for the drag coefficients taking into account blockage effects. Now I am currently analyzing lots of ram air parachute test jump data that was collected in the last two years by Dr. Potvin and Gary Peek.

Some of my contributions to this research have been included in several of the PRG papers presented at two recent AIAA parachute conferences.

P.S. Becky graduated in May 2001 and now works as a Test Director at the US Army Proving Grounds in Yuma, Arizona.

Becky Brocato




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Carlos E. Manglano

Undergraduate Student in Aerospace Engineering
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Parks College of Engineering and Aviation
Saint Louis University


My name is Carlos E. Manglano, I come from Spain, I have studied my two first years in college at Madrid Campus, and currently, I am doing my third year at Parks College.

When I was a little kid, I decided to study Aerospace Engineering because I found the field in engineering where I could find more challenges. I have always been a person who likes to look for the reason of any physical process. Therefore, that is why I am interested in the Parks College Parachute Research Group. So far in my life I have thought that a parachute is ismply a body that offers resistance to the falling of the object that it is attached to. I expect that my experience in this group shows me the entire "world" involved in a parachute.

P.S. Carlos graduated May 2000 and is now studying for a Masters degree in Aerospace Engineering here at St. Louis University.

Carlos Manglano

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Daniel Garcia

Undergraduate Student in Aerospace Engineering
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Parks College of Engineering and Aviation
Saint Louis University


I am from La Coruna, Spain and was born on February 25, 1976. When I was a child I wanted to be a fighter pilot, but my vision was not good enough, so I decided to design aircraft instead.

I am learning about fluid dynamics in the Parks wind tunnel and the routines necessary to test objects in the tunnel.

P.S. Daniel graduated in December 2000 and has returned to his home country.

Daniel Garcia




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Rodney Kutz

Sophomore in Aerospace Engineering
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Parks College of Engineering and Aviation
Saint Louis University


Rodney worked with the PRG during the summer of 2000 helping Dr. Potvin in his work on rocket recovery parachutes.

P.S. Rodney graduated in May 2001 and is now employed by Boeing working in the flight testing branch.

Rodney Kutz




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Eric Brighton

Sophomore in Aerospace Engineering
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
Parks College of Engineering and Aviation
Saint Louis University


My name is Eric Brighton. I am currently a sophomore studying Aerospace Engineering and Russian at Parks College. I am also a member of Air Force ROTC Detachment 207, Arnold Air Society, the Society of Automotive Engineers, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. I was born and raised in South St. Louis and a graduated from St. Louis University High School. My fascination with airplanes and aerodynamics began at an early age when I first went to Space Camp in fourth grade and has grown steadily ever since. I took an interest in parachute research as it afforded me an opportunity to enter the world of flight testing, which is a field I hope to spend my career focusing in as an Air Force test pilot. I usually am involved with helping out with drop tests of scale model parachutes of our new airborne assault parachute tests for the Army, as well as honing my skills using the FORTRAN computer language for data processing as well as other number crunching. I also spend my time working as a teacher's assistant for Dr. Potvin's Aviation Physics course at Parks, as well as working towards my FAA Private Pilot's License.



Eric Brighton

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Mitchell Barklage

St. Charles High School graduate
St. Charles, MO


My name is Mitchell Barklage. I am a graduate of St. Charles High School which is right outside of St. Louis. During the summer of 1998 I was a participant in the National Science Foundation Young Scholars Program. The six week program consisted of many science seminars, social activities, and a research project conducted under the guidance of a mentor. It also included working with a team of reseachers on a university campus to get a feel for what research science is all about. This is how I got teamed up with Dr. Jean Potvin and the rest of the parachute research group. As a result of my work with the PRG I was able to write a report entitled "Numerical and Experimental Studies of the Deployment and Inflation of Autonomous Parafoils in the Atmospheres of Jupiter and Saturn" which we hope to publish in a professional space science journal soon.

P.S. Mitch is now enrolled in the Astronomy program at the University of Iowa. We wish him good luck!

Mitchell Barklage

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