2020 Research Projects
Projects are posted below; new projects will continue to be posted. To learn more about the type of research conducted by undergraduates, view the 2021 Research Symposium Abstracts (PDF) and search the past SURF projects.
This is a list of research projects that may have opportunities for undergraduate students. Please note that it is not a complete list of every SURF project. Undergraduates will discover other projects when talking directly to Purdue faculty.
You can browse all the projects on the list or view only projects in the following categories:
00 REMOTE Research Project Example for the COVID-Summer
Here is the description of your REMOTE summer research project. The typical project should be 20 hours per week and 10 weeks of work and paired with a graduate student mentor. Students will formally start the research on June 1 and work through August 7. Students will participate in a remote/online professional development program organized by SURF and project outcomes will be disseminated in an online symposium on July 30.
More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/MSE/news/2020/mse-sounds-like-the-future
Building Software for Environmental Modeling
Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department has contributed several tools for environmental modeling community. It is a challenge to review and understand old codes with minimum documentation. This project involves modernizing an environmental modeling software written primarily in Perl. In this project, the SURF student will first assess the current application, create a plan for the new iteration in collaboration with the project supervisor, get a head start on developing the new application and document the process. The SURF student will work with a staff programmer.
Comparing structural and functional consequences of forest fragmentation in urban and rural contexts
Forests provide a wide array of goods and services on which humans depend for their well-being in both urban and rural locations. Unfortunately, land clearing for both urbanization and agriculture have fragmented much of the world's forests with unknown consequences for their ability to continue providing these services. Trees that are located on the edge of a forest are exposed to a different suite of environmental factors than trees on the inside of a forest. Edge trees are impacted by environmental factors such as higher exposure to light, wind, and temperature gradients. Other factors include effects from neighboring land depending on type and use. The purpose of this project is to quantify differences in the edge effect on trees in rural settings compared to urban settings that may lead to different levels of ecosystem functioning that have previously been unaccounted for.
Cooling Technologies Research Center (CTRC)
The continued miniaturization of electronic devices, with expanded functionality at reduced cost, challenges the viability of products across a broad spectrum of industry applications. The electronics industry is driven by global trends in storage, transmission, and processing of extreme quantities of digital information (cloud computing, data centers), increasing electrification of the transportation sector (electric vehicles, hybrid aircraft, batteries), and the proliferation of interconnected computing devices (mobile computing, IoT, 5G). Proper thermal management of electronic devices is critical to avoid overheating failures and ensure energy efficient operation. In view of these rapidly evolving markets, most of the known electronics cooling technologies are approaching their limits and have a direct impact on system performance (e.g., computing power, driving range, device size, etc.).
Research projects in the Cooling Technologies Research Center (CTRC) are exploring new technologies and discovering ways to more effectively apply existing technologies to addresses the needs of companies and organizations in the area of high-performance heat removal from compact spaces. One of the distinctive features of working in this Center is training in practical applications relevant to industry. All of the projects involve close industrial support and collaboration in the research, often with direct transfer of the technologies to the participating industry members. Projects in the Center involve both experimental and computational aspects, are multi-disciplinary in nature, and are open to excellent students with various engineering and science backgrounds. Multiple different research project opportunities are available based on student interests and preferences.
More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/CTRC/
Lake Michigan shoreline erosion and sediment transport
This project aims to quantify historical and ongoing erosion along Lake Michigan's shoreline, using drones and water survey data. With Lake Michigan water levels currently at near-record highs, property damage along the lakeshore is immense, and the student will work to better understand the magnitude and mechanisms of shoreline erosion. This project will involve field work and potentially some computer simulations of Lake Michigan shoreline erosion.
More information: https://engineering.purdue.edu/CE/People/Faculty/Troy
Open to Many Topics
Interested in multiple project areas.
Testing Evolutionary Hypotheses on Collective Memory of Past Disasters through a Large-Scale Crowdsourced Behavioral Experiment
This project will develop and conduct an online behavioral game that will crowdsource participants through Amazon Mechanical Turk. In this behavioral experiment, a group of real human subjects can complete a relevant task online (solving a social dilemma in the face of environmental shocks) and communicate their knowledge and experience to a next group of online participants (next generation). Many groups of online participants will be crowdsourced into the experiment to generate high fidelity behavioral data on a mass scale. Participants' decision data will be analyzed to test several hypotheses about human behavior.