Each time the Wagner twins have graduated from somewhere, they clandestinely switched roles and accepted the other’s diploma.
“It’s a private joke,” said Jordan. “Not everybody gets it,” said his brother and identical twin, Joshua.
Each earned a B.S. in ocean engineering from Texas A&M in 2016, enrolled after graduation as a visiting research student at the University of Oxford, and entered the doctoral program in mechanical engineering at Rice University that fall. Both work in the Particle Flow and Tribology Lab of Fred Higgs, the John and Ann Doerr Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
Here’s where the twins part company, slightly. Joshua was recently selected as a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow for his proposal “Numerical Simulation of Interfacial Fluid-Particle Flow in Binder Jet Additive Manufacturing for Aerospace Components.” Jordan was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
“Our parents always respected our individuality. We were always allowed to be ourselves, not just twins,” said Jordan, whose hair is longer than his brother’s, the one physical distinction apparent to someone meeting them for the first time.
“Once in a while, if we by chance end up wearing the same clothes, one of us goes home and changes,” Joshua said.
The Wagners, born and raised in Nederland, Texas, near Beaumont, are the sons of teachers. One of their two sisters has twins, and her husband has twin brothers.
The research each pursues in the Higgs Lab overlaps with his brother’s. Both work in the general field of fluid dynamics and tribology, the science of interacting surfaces in motion. Jordan has developed a computational method for understanding the squeeze-film flow of electrically conducting fluids in a magnetic field. Joshua looks at the fluid-particle interaction in binder-jet 3D printing.
Another difference between them: Jordan is attracted to teaching; Joshua, less so. For NASA he will work to improve manufacturing methods for fabricating rocket components. Space travel remains an abiding interest.
When the brothers were asked to remember the dumbest question they had ever been asked, Jordan replied: “What’s it like being a twin?”