Frank J. Cunha

Professor of Practice, Rensselaer at Work

Programs Taught

Mechanical Engineering and MANE Department


Professor Cunha began his career at General Electric as Edison Engineer and later became a Technical Leader at Pratt and Whitney. During this professional period, Frank developed some of the most advanced aircraft engines in the world for both commercial and military aircraft, culminating in over 100 US patents.  

Professor Cunha developed engineering power plant systems and was responsible for power generation and distribution throughout the State of New Jersey, overseeing the operation of fossil fuel, nuclear pressurized-water and a nuclear boiler-water reactor power plant. He then contributed to the design of the most efficient combined-cycle power plant for Siemens Power Generation.  

Professor Cunha enjoys teaching mechanical engineering courses at RPI ranging from solid-mechanics to fracture-mechanics, fluid-dynamics, turbomachinery, thermodynamics, advanced heat transfer, computational fluid dynamics, and advanced engineering mathematics. He is a RPI senate committee member and an academic advisor to Rensselaer at Work engineering students in the Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering program. 

Other Professional Experiences

  • University of Connecticut – Mechanical Engineering Faculty
  • United Technologies Pratt & Whitney – Technology Leader
  • Siemens-Westinghouse Corp – Principal Engineer
  • General Electric – Edison Engineer to Staff Engineer
  • PSEG – Electric Power Staff Engineer
  • Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, New York University, 1995
  • M.S., Mechanical Engineering, New Jersey Institute of Technology, 1983
  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, New Jersey Institute of Technology, 1979

Other Certificates and Licenses

  • Member of ICHMT, International Center of Heat and Mass Transfer (since 2013
  • ASME K14 Heat Transfer Committee member (since 2005)
  • Fellow of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (since 2005)
  • Associate Editor of ASME International Journal of Heat Transfer (2008 – 2013)
  • Awarded U.S. Patents in the fields of Gas Turbine Technology for Combustors, Turbines, and Afterburners
  • Author of ASME and AIAA papers in the Journal of Propulsion and Power and Journal of Turbomachinery and in ASME IGTI publications
  • Licensed as a Professional Engineer in the State of New Jersey
  • Member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society
Research Focus
  • Turbomachinery Development and Turbine Blade Analysis
  • Advanced Thermodynamics and Energy Systems
  • Solid and Fluid Mechanics
  • Computer Modeling and Simulation
  • Heat Transfer Testing
  • Slot Cooling
  • Thermal-Mechanical Fatigue
Contact Information
Select Works
  • Cunha, F.J., Gas Turbine Heat Transfer, Turbine Aerodynamics, Heat Transfer, Materials and Mechanics, Progress and Astronautics and Aeronautics, Vol. 243, ISBN-13: 978-1624102639, September, 2014.
  • Cunha, F.J., Turbine Heat Transfer Analysis, Gas Turbine Handbook, United States Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, 2006
  • Cunha, F.J., Trailing Edge Cooling for Gas Turbines, Special Section on Turbine Science and Technology, AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power, April 2006.
  • Cunha, F.J., Integrated High Performance Turbine Engine Technologies VII “Turbine Edge Cooling, United States Air Force, Air Force Material Command, Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright Patterson Air Force Research Laboratory, May, 2003.
  • Cunha, F.J., Enhanced Turbine Airfoil Lifing for Long Hot Missions, United States Air Force, Air Force Material Command, Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright Patterson Air Force Research Laboratory, May, 2003.
  • “Heat Transfer on Internal Surfaces of a Duct Subjected to Impingement of a Jet Array with Varying Jet Hole-Size and Spacing”, Journal of Turbomachinery, Vol.128, 2006.
  • “Effects of Coating Blockage and Deposit on Film-Cooling Effectiveness and Surface Heat Transfer”, AIAA 2006-0024, 2006
  • Thermal-Mechanical Life Prediction System for Anisotropic Turbine Components Journal of Turbomachinery, TURBO-05-1110, 2005