Student Research Takes Center Stage at 5th Annual Armour R&D Expo


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A student explains her summer research

Armour College of Engineering students, faculty, alumni, and industry representatives gathered in the John T. Rettaliata Engineering Center for the fifth Annual Armour R&D Expo on April 18, 2019. This year’s poster competition showcased the research of undergraduate students who participated in the Armour R&D program during the 2018–19 academic year.

During the expo 15 Armour R&D participants presented posters representing research and development projects within the college’s four Engineering Themes: water, health, energy, and security. A panel of judges that included faculty members and graduate students evaluated the student presentations on context, clarity, and overall visual presentation.

Daniel Medina (BME 2nd year) received the highest overall score for his collaboration with Kuili Fang (CHBE Ph.D. candidate) and Seok Hoon Hong, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, on their project titled “Bacteria Biofilm Inhibition Through Dual-Species Cultivation.” This overall research seeks to investigate different ways to inhibit a pathogenic bacteria biofilm with a probiotic bacteria biofilm, and is also part of a paper that will soon be published in a food control journal.

Medina says, “Working alongside Professor Hong has not only taught me what a great researcher looks like, but also what a great leader looks like. Under his supervision, I have learned new research methods, discovered new things, and gotten more exposure to the scientific world.” He adds, “Special thanks to the Armour R&D program as well, which provided me with the platform that allowed me to accomplish everything I have so far. I look forward to seizing more opportunities like this in the future.”

Thao Dang (BME 4th year) and Abhinav Bhushan, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, were designated as runners-up for their research titled “Gut-Brain Axis on a Chip: Creating an Anaerobic Microfluidic Chamber.” Dang explains, “Our study shows that a person’s gut is highly influential on how neurons behave and may even induce neurodegeneration that leads to diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.” Dang says that this experience has been valuable in shaping her career path because she enjoys the process of research and development, specifically the opportunity to make medical devices.

Erica Acton (ARCE 3rd year) and Mohammad Heidarinejad, assistant professor of architectural engineering, were selected as runners-up for their research titled “Energy Savings for Radiators Using Building Sensors and Controls.” Acton joined Akram Ali (CE Ph.D. candidate) and Chris Riley (CE M.S. candidate) to find inefficiencies in the steam radiator heating system at Alumni Memorial Hall and to devise a system to increase thermal comfort in offices and classrooms. Acton says, “I like that this project is focused on helping the school and will hopefully save the university some money once it’s implemented in the winter.”

After the poster competition, each of the winners received an award that was laser engraved by Craig Johnson, head of Armour’s Machine Shop and coordinator of the Student Fabrication and Design Studio.

The R&D program is an Armour College of Engineering Distinctive Education initiative that offers undergraduate engineering students the opportunity to gain hands-on research and development experience in the lab of a faculty mentor.