Beginning in their freshman year, hundreds of students work with professors on research that seeks to solve scientific and societal problems. In so doing, the students use their hands as well as their intellects to help their professors create new technologies.
A case in point was yesterday’s Dana Knox Student Research Showcase, where more than 50 students gathered in the Campus Center to present their research. All students in the showcase had to be nominated by a professor and have their research reviewed by an academic committee.
Only the top student researchers were selected. Their research interests spanned an array of fields, from biomedical and pharmaceutical engineering, to transportation and health care, to information technology and industrial engineering.
First place in the undergraduate category went to a student team who devised a concept to reduce traffic on the Garden State Parkway. The five students, all of whom major in civil engineering, designed an elevated roadway, or “flyover structure,” that would add two elevated lanes to an 8-mile section of the Parkway in Essex County.
Jacqueline Moreno, a senior majoring in chemical engineering, won second place for studying novel uses for strip films, a drug delivery method that’s easier to digest than pills for some people with certain conditions. Moreno also holds the Robert Sydney Needham Memorial STEM Scholarship.
And third place went to Vladimir Martinez, a senior majoring in physics, for studying the optical spectrum of the magnetic field.
In the graduate category, Patrick Thompson won first place for researching how temperature affects solder joints, the parts within electronic devices that connect the microprocessor to the circuit board. Specifically, he looked at what role temperature plays if you drop a device such as a phone or laptop. Will the solder joints be more likely to fail if you drop a device in a hot climate?
“Yes, I found that solder joints are much more likely to fail if you drop a phone or device in a hot climate,” said Thompson, who is doing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.
His degree is being funded by the Department of Defense Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship. After he completes his master’s, as a condition of the scholarship, he’ll work as a mechanical engineer in the Naval Air Warfare Center - Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, New Jersey.
There was a tie for second place: Babak Hoseini, a doctoral student in industrial engineering, won for designing a device that would allow restaurants to decompose food waste on-site, diverting kitchen waste from landfills. And Sharareh Dehkordi, also a doctoral student in industrial engineering, won second for studying whether retail stores should provide 3-D printing services in their stores.
And there was another tie for third place: Andrey Stejko, a doctoral student in physics, won for creating a computer model of the stellar cycle that can analyze the motion of magnetic fields; whereas Matthew Kuriakose, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering, won third for studying the physical mechanisms behind traumatic brain injury, one of the main injuries sustained by soldiers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. His research could lead to the development of therapeutic treatments for affected soldiers.
“The best experience that a college student can ever have is to work on innovative research with a great professor,” said Atam Dhawan, vice provost for research. “Students love the hands-on experience of research and they benefit enormously from it.”
“Whether they apply for a job or apply to a graduate or a professional school, nothing compares to having research experience, Dhawan continued. “That is why we have expanded our research opportunities to hundreds of our students who, as you can see from the (above) Dana Knox Showcase winners, lead the nation in their ability to solve societal problems and to make a difference in the global community.”