The Very Spring and Root

An engineer's adventures in education (and other musings).

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Nalin A. Ratnayake

I am an aerospace engineer by training. I have experience in Aerodynamics and Propulsion, particularly gas turbine engines, rocket engines, and computational fluid dynamics analysis of high-speed reacting flows.

(My educator credentials are listed separately.)


2011 M.S. Aerospace Engineering (Propulsion), University of Southern California
2006 B.S.E Aerospace Engineering, Barrett Honors College, Arizona State University


From June 2006 – June 2012 worked as a research engineer for NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in the Aerodynamics and Propulsion Branch.

Most recently assigned as a Flow Physics research engineer for the F-15B testbed, Propulsion Flight Test Fixture. Primary task was propulsion analysis and CFD support for the Channeled Centerbody Inlet Experiment (variable geometry, mixed-compression, supersonic inlet technology), study of inlet mass flow, face distortion, and shock oscillation (inlet buzz).

Supported the Dryden Center Chief Technologist, performing research advocacy and analysis on airbreathing access-to-space and advanced propulsion in support of the NASA Office of the Chief Technologist.

Aerodynamicist on the X-48B program, conducting research into non-standard parameter estimation methods for hybrid-wing-body / blended-wing-body aircraft. Design of temporal separation and frequency separation methods (such as multisine / walsh function) and maneuvers. Design of test point matrix over the flight program. Control room / flight test support.

Aircraft propulsion and performance analysis for the Phoenix Missile Hypersonic Testbed project; development of a dynamic model of the Pratt & Whitney F100 jet engine series for research purposes; optimization of AIM-54C missile launch conditions for maximum peak velocity and flight time above Mach 5; mission control room display design and operation; post-flight data analysis and corresponding refinement of F-15B drag and thrust models.

Aerodynamicist for the Constellation program, in the area of design, simulation, and validation for flush air data system (FADS) to be used on abort flight tests for the Orion crew module; model generation, computational fluid dynamics analysis, pressure sensor layout, reference tank design, and analysis of wind tunnel test procedure.

Controls Engineer for the F-15B Intelligent Flight Control System, including analysis and limited design of neural network flight control systems.


Taylor, B.R., and Ratnayake, N.A., “Flight Test of Orthogonal Square Wave Inputs for Hybrid Wing Body Parameter Estimation,” AIAA 2011-6276, 2011.

Ratnayake, N.A., Koshimoto, E.T., and Taylor, B.R., “Multi-Axis Identifiability Using Single-Surface Parameter Estimation Maneuvers on the X-48B Blended Wing Body,” AIAA 2011-6273, 2011.

Ratnayake, N.A., Waggoner, E.R., and Taylor, B.R., “Lateral-Directional Parameter Estimation on the X-48B Aircraft Using an Abstracted, Multi-Objective Effector Model,” AIAA 2011-3014, 2011.

Kloesel, K.J., Ratnayake, N.A., and Clark, C.M., “A Technology Pathway for Airbreathing, Combined-Cycle, Horizontal Space Launch Through SR-71 Based Trajectory Modeling,” AIAA 2011-2229, 2011.

Taylor, Brian R., and Ratnayake, N.A., “Simulation and Flight Evaluation of a Parameter Estimation Input Design Method for Hybrid-Wing-Body Aircraft,” AIAA 2010-7949, 2010.

Frederick, M., and Ratnayake, N.A., “Flight Test Results from the Rake Airflow Gage Experiment on the F-15B,” AIAA 2010-4573, 2010.

Ratnayake, N.A., “Analysis of a Channeled Centerbody Supersonic Inlet for F-15B Flight Research,” AIAA 2010-477, 2010. Flynn, D.C.,

Ratnayake, N.A., and Frederick, M, “Design and Calibration of a Flowfield Survey Rake for Inlet Flight Research,” AIAA 2009-1484, 2009.

Mikellides, P.G. and Ratnayake, N.A., “Modeling of the Pulsed Inductive Thruster Operating with Ammonia Propellant,” AIAA-26609-298, 2007. Also published in AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power, 2007 0748-4658, vol 23, no. 4 (854-862).

Ratnayake, N.A. “Creation of a Custom SESAME Library for Ammonia for Use in Modeling a Pulsed Inductive Thruster.” International Conference on the Plasma Sciences, ICOPS-2006-2A4.

Mikellides, P.G., Allison, D.L., Ratnayake, N. and Booze, D. “Modeling of a Pulsed Inductive Thruster, (PIT) operating with Ammonia Propellant.” 2005 International Electric Propulsion Conference (Princeton, NJ), IEPC-2005-128.