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Jessica Townsend, Ph.D.

Jessica Townsend, Ph.D.

Interim Academic Vice President for External Engagement

Milas Hall 259


Ph.D., Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT
M.S., Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, University of California, Davis
B.S., Mechanical Engineering, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Select Courses Taught

Modeling and Simulation of the Physical World
Transport Phenomena

Areas Of Interest

Curriculum Innovation
Engineering Education
Thermal Fluids


Dr. Jessica Townsend is a passionate proponent of undergraduate engineering curriculum innovation and is dedicated to finding pathways to innovation in traditional educational settings. She is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the Interim Academic Vice President for External Engagement at Olin College. Since joining the Olin College faculty in 2004, Dr. Townsend has worked as a facilitator and consultant with universities and professional organizations looking to improve engineering student engagement, and has contributed to the development of innovative pedagogies, courses, and curricula at Olin College, mainly in the design and mechanical engineering areas. Her technical area of interest is experimental thermal-fluids and she worked for many years on the development and characterization of nanofluids (colloidal suspensions of nanoparticles), mainly for thermal management applications. She now focuses on projects that effectively engage undergraduates in thermal-fluid and propulsion related areas, including recent work on a hybrid solid rocket test stand. Dr. Townsend has industry experience in both air-breathing propulsion, as a gas turbine performance engineer at Hamilton Sundstrand Power Systems, and in rocket propulsion, as a visiting engineer at Blue Origin, a commercial spaceflight company based in Seattle, WA.

Select Publications

Townsend, J., Christianson, R., “Nanofluid Properties and their Effects on Convective Heat Transfer of Electronics Cooling Systems,” Journal of Thermal Science and Engineering Applications, 1, p. 031006, 2010.
Buongiorno, J., Venerus, D., Prabhat, N., McKrell, T., Tolmachev, Y.V., Townsend, J., Christianson, R., and others, “A Benchmark Study on the Thermal Conductivity of Nanofluids,” Journal of Applied Physics, 106, 094312, 2009.
Townsend, J., Dillon, A., Sequiera, S., “Student-Centered Learning and Metacognitive Strategies in Engineering Thermal-Fluid Courses,” Proceedings of the AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting 2008, January 6 – 9, 2008, Reno, Nevada.