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Philip Barnett

Energy Materials


Supervising Faculty: Uday Vaidya, Dayakar Penumadu

Philip's primary research interest is in improving the thermal resistance of carbon fiber composites. In many applications, thermal loading is the primary factor that prevents the use of lightweight carbon fiber reinforced materials. This is significant to the transportation industry because heat-resistant metals are often used in these applications, which increases the weight and fuel usage of vehicles. His experience at the University of Illinois focused on cooling carbon fiber composites through flow through microvascular channels. At the University of Tennessee, Philip intends to further explore methods of cooling, with a focus on autonomous operation.

Outside of the lab, Philip enjoys volunteering through his church and a variety of campus organizations. He is passionate about educational outreach, poverty alleviation, and environmental protection. In his free time, Philip can likely be found playing softball or spending time with family and friends.


As an undergraduate, Philip's research focused on using flow though embedded microvascular channels to improve the thermal resistance of high-performance carbon fiber composites. He worked under the advisement of Scott White and graduate students in the Autonomous Materials Systems research group. During his senior year, Philip also served as the lead Materials Engineer on a NASA Small Spacecraft Technology Program (SSTP) grant for the development of a deployable microvascular cooling fin for satellite solar panels. He has utilized these previous experiences in my research at the University of Tennessee, where he is studying randomly-oriented, isotropic carbon fiber/thermoplastic matrix composites.


Bachelor of Science Aerospace Engineering – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Professional Service

  • Illini Aerospace Outreach – President and founding member of organization dedicated to providing STEM educational outreach
  • Hope Center – volunteered monthly at the Hope Center food pantry through the Urbana Vineyard Church
  • Learning in Community (LINC) – taught and facilitated an interdisciplinary course focused on producing sustainable projects that enhance community outreach, student interaction, and reduce fossil fuel dependence of Allerton Park

Awards and Recognitions

  • Outstanding Teaching Assistant Rating – Received outstanding (top 10% campus-wide) rating from student feedback
  • Beckman Institute Student Researcher of the Week – featured in Beckman Synergy publication
  • Illinois Scholars Undergraduate Research Scholarship Program – Received scholarship recognizing undergraduate research accomplishments
  • Technology Services Help Desk Student Employee of the Year – Selected as Help Desk nominee for campus-wide student employee of the year
  • AIAA Region III Student Conference – Received 2nd place award in Community Outreach category for Illini Aerospace Outreach submission; Received 3rd place award in Undergraduate category for paper titled “Microvascular Carbon Fiber Composites for Laptop Cooling”


  • Co-author on Pety et al., "Carbon fiber composites with 2D microvascular networks for battery cooling", In preparation for International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer
  • Co-author on Pety et al., “Enhanced crashworthiness of microvascular composites,” In preparation for Composites A

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