Prior to joining the faculty at WPI in August 2015, I worked as a post-doctoral research associate at Graduate Aerospace Laboratories at California Institute of Technology. My research at Caltech focused on the development of a Granular Element Method (GEM) based force visualization technique for the study of 2D granular systems under impact loading. I examined of the role of granular fabric on the wave motion and formation of force chains in granular media. During my doctoral dissertation at the University of Illinois, I developed micro-scale mechanical experimentation techniques to investigate the mechanical behavior of thin film materials over wide range of strain rates and temperatures.
My current research interests include experimental mechanics at micro/nano-scale, temperature and rate dependent mechanics of nanostructured materials, dynamic response and flow of granular media, mechanics and damage of inhomogeneous materials and optical measurement techniques. Design and optimization of microstructure of structural materials requires a thorough understanding of the mechanisms controlling their mechanical behavior. In particular I have strived to understand the interplay between temperature, strain rate and microstructure in the mechanics of novel materials. This complex interaction can be resolved using rich experimental data obtained through accurate and repeatable full-field measurements using optical microscopy, x-ray tomography, electron microscopy and thermography. Such experimental data provide the unique opportunity to model the mechanical response of materials and validate multi-scale modeling strategies. The validation of theory through application of inverse methods to model experimental results and the development of new mathematical models describing the mechanical response can provide great insight in design and optimization for new materials.
My laboratory is used for undergraduate and graduate research in field of mechanics of novel materials and structures used in aerospace systems. The laboratory is equipped with NI Compact DAQ acquisition system for actuation and sensing applications to understand the mechanics of structures and materials. The laboratory includes an optical microscopy suite to visualize the full-field deformation of nanostructured materials with nanometer resolution using Digital Image Correlation (DIC). The laboratory also hosts a high speed imaging system to investigate the mechanics of granular media under dynamic loading and the flow of granular media. The laboratory also focusses on the dynamic response of granular media and inhomogeneous materials using an impact testing setup. The laboratory is equipped with a Laser Scanning Doppler Vibrometer system to measure the velocity of vibrations in structures like particle dampers and ferroelectrics in low and high frequency ranges.
My teaching philosophy focusses on helping students understand that the fundamental concepts and requisite mathematical framework taught in class are essential for their future endeavors. I emphasize the importance of basic engineering principles to the students and teach them how to apply these principles to solve real-world problems.
Professional Highlights & Honors
WBUR interviewed Nikhil Karanjgaokar, assistant professor of aerospace engineering, who’s aiming to create a bulletproof vest in which the materials inside the vest could instantly change properties, providing greater shock protection at the exact point of impact. “You just feel safe knowing that know matter what sort of impact comes your way you’re protected,” he said.
ASEE First Bell included research conducted by Nikhil Karanjgaokar, assistant professor of aerospace engineering, in this article. He is aiming—in part—to create a bulletproof vest in which the materials inside the vest could instantly change properties, providing greater shock protection at the exact point of impact. The work is being funded by a five-year, $500,000 Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation.