Anderson honored for early-career work on explosives

06/09/2017
 
This spring, alumnus Eric Anderson (PhD ME ’09) was distinguished as one of MechSE’s Outstanding Young Alumni. 
 
Since 2013, Anderson has worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where he is a laboratory scientist. His primary focus is on explosives, and he coordinates experiments on explosives testing. He also works on designing, assembling, and analyzing experiments for data on explosives performance and shock physics.
 
Anderson said his work is an “exciting field” because it challenges scientists to work with something traveling at high speeds that can be detonated at large scales despite being so small. He explained that under these sorts of conditions, scientists can conduct a variety of measurements, including detonation velocities, wave shapes, and energy release rates using high-speed cameras, laser based techniques, and radiography. 
 
“The information we collect is used to design, calibrate, and validate the computational models which can be used to predict the behavior of explosives without the need to do experiments on every single configuration,” said Anderson. 
 
Anderson’s work has significant implications for society and national security because some of the explosives they work with, such as ammonium nitrate, were used in bombings that shook the nation. He said that by knowing and understanding these kinds of explosives, scientists can inform first responders on how best to do their job if any bombings happen again. 
 
He said the department provided him with proper knowledge on fluid mechanics, dynamics, and other mathematical tools. Although he did not study explosive or detonations at MechSE, Anderson said learning about forms of combustion and being able to use the labs here have been instrumental in his career. 
 
“Thanks to the education and research experience I received from this department, I have what I consider to be a dream career: I get to blow stuff up,” Anderson said.