A group of 54 brilliant undergraduate researchers, working on cutting-edge summer projects, will present a joint poster session of their Research Experience for Undergraduates on Friday, August 5, from 10:00 a.m. until noon in the Campus Center Auditorium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The four REU programs that will participate in the poster session are all funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF): 26 students from the Colleges of Engineering and Natural Sciences Wind Energy Program; 10 students from the Collaborative Undergraduate Research in Engineering (CURE) Program; six students from the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP); and 10 students from the Biological and Soft Matter Research Traineeship (B-SMaRT) Program. Two other independent engineering students are also participating.
All the posters will be on display for visitors, and the student researchers will be available to explain each project in understandable language for nonscientists. These projects are good examples of all the research being done by these undergrads from across the UMass Amherst campus and around the country. These students perform independent research under the mentorship of faculty and graduate students, participate in seminars and professional development activities, and present their research to a broad scientific and engineering community.
The showcase REU program for the College of Engineering is its collaboration with the College of Natural Sciences on the UMass summer Wind Energy Program. Students participating in this programcome from colleges across the United States: UMass Amherst, the University of Texas at Dallas, Bunker Hill Community College, Smith College, Springfield Technical Community College, Wellesley College, University of Virgin Islands, Swarthmore College, University of Massachusetts Boston, Rutgers University, and Bryn Mawr College. View some sample projects here [pdf].
As examples of the sophisticated research being done, two faculty members from our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department are the leading professors on fascinating projects dealing with wind energy.
Professor Erin Baker is overseeing a project about “Offshore Wind Farm Siting as a Robust Portfolio Problem.” One of the greatest barriers to offshore wind is resolving the conflict among all of the uses and interests in the space the farms will occupy as well as managing the potential for ecological impacts. This summer research develops a framework for incorporating the range of different impacts of offshore wind development at different scales into robust windfarm siting. For instance, one student supports the development of the portfolio model by testing the relationship between inputs and outputs of the model, running the detailed aero-elastic FAST model to parameterize the reduced-form wind-effects model used in the optimization model. A second student collects and organizes data regarding New England's energy mix to support a case study implementation of the model.
Professor Yahya Modarres-Sadeghi is leading a project investigating “Fluid-structure interaction of vertical-axis floating wind turbines.” Vertical-axis wind turbines are a promising candidate for use in future floating wind turbines. Their successful deployment depends on a stable floating platform as well as a stable blade. The project is focused on understanding the possible blade instabilities as well as platform instabilities in these floating turbines. A possible source of platform instability is due to vortex-induced vibration (VIV) of mooring lines, which are used to keep the platforms in place. One REU (Jakobi Peets) is testing VIV of clustered flexible cylinders, a direct analogue to the design of mooring systems. Another source of instability is the possible flow-induced instabilities of wind turbine blades. Another REU student (Kaila Roffman) is designing and testing a set-up to conduct controlled experiments on airfoils, which are used in the vertical axis wind turbine designs, and predict their possible instabilities through some numerical predictive tools. A third REU student (Bridget Benner) is conducting experiments in the lab to observe these instabilities.
In addition to the wind energy program, four other campus programs are participating in the poster presentation. CURE offers an opportunity for summer research to a diverse group of high-performing students with backgrounds in chemistry, physics, materials science, or chemical engineering. Each of CURE's fundamental science research projects strives toward breakthrough technologies for tomorrow's clean energy solutions, including in-depth research on fuel cells and batteries, photovoltaic devices, and the chemical and biological conversion of biomass to liquid transportation cellulosic biofuels. View CURE website.
LSAMP seeks to promote minority undergraduate student participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related programs. LSAMP scholars are eligible to have funded research opportunities at UMass laboratories. Through LSAMP, students receive mentoring that will guide them towards a successful career. In addition, LSAMP scholars can become mentors for others and gain leadership experience. View LSAMP website.
Another group of undergraduates is working this summer on the NSF-funded B-SMaRT REU program. Students from Springfield Technical Community College, UMass, and across the country perform summer research with UMass Physics Department faculty in both experimental and theoretical aspects of soft and biological materials. The program endeavors to engage students in the fundamental aspects of physics through these interesting, yet accessible physical problems of the everyday world. View B-SMaRT website.
All the REU students will be on hand to explain their projects, answer questions, and interact with visitors. (August 2016)