Research Projects

This is a list of research projects that may have opportunities for undergraduate students. You can browse all the projects, or view only projects in the following categories:

Educational Research/Social Science

 

Analysis of Engineering Graduate Student Perceptions of the Necessary Knowledge, Skills, and Attributes for Career Success

Research categories:  Educational Research/Social Science, Other
School/Dept.: Engineering Education
Professor: Monica Cox
Preferred major(s): Engineering (any discipline), preferably, but not required
Desired experience:   Although no previous experience is required for this project, a student filling this role must be inquisitive, passionate about engineering and the ways in which engineers are trained, and highly disciplined and self-motivated with good time management skills. Basic computer skill competency is required (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, etc.).
Number of positions: 1

This research project seeks to further describe prior research on the significant knowledge, skills, and attributes that are required for engineering success as a Ph.D. in academic and industry careers. The scope of the research for the summer project will be interpreting survey results from current engineering Ph.D. students regarding their views on what skills will be necessary in their future desired career, and how well they feel they are prepared to perform those skills. This is important to the fields of engineering as a whole and Engineering Education as a discipline, because if Ph.D. students aren’t aware of the requirements of their future careers, and/or if they are not prepared to meet the expectations of their employers, then academic professional development strategies or engineering curriculum at the doctoral level needs to be reformed.

The undergraduate researcher’s contribution to this project will help a graduate student in Engineering Education collect and interpret data from this survey, as well as assist in creation of several deliverables. One such deliverable will be the creation of brief “industry report”-style pamphlets for outreach and education purposes. There is also potential for co-authorship on journal papers resulting from this research.

 

Constructing Large Scale Representative Social Networks

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Educational Research/Social Science, Industrial Engineering, Life Science, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Industrial Engineering
Professor: Mario Ventresca
Desired experience:   At least one student with object-oriented programming, data structures, algorithm analysis, as well as familiarity with at least basic discrete mathematics, statistics and probability (graph theory, distributions, hypothesis testing, regression, etc). Experience using MPI/parallel computation would be highly advantageous, but not necessary. Familiarity with Linux and R would also be useful. A student with a background in epidemiology or applied mathematics would also be very strongly considered.
Number of positions: 1-2

Facebook, Twitter, Orkut and LinkedIn are well known examples of cyber-social networks. However, social networks obviously exist outside of that domain and can represent the connections we make with the people around us. Unlike cyber-world social networks where the connections people make are fully known and observable, real-world networks must be inferred from limited statistical information as well as reasonable assumptions about human behavior. In both instances, a representative social network allows for the study of not only the network topological properties but also diffusive processes acting upon it, such as information spread, influence, disease, etc. There exists a gap in our ability to reconstruct real-world networks from partially observed, noisy and limited data.

This project will aid in developing efficient and scalable algorithms for constructing real-world social network representations at different scales and abstractions (up to global). An extensive literature review of existing capabilities and known social behaviors/mixing patterns will be conducted as part of the project, as will data acquisition and analysis.

 

Engineering Leadership Research, Curriculum Development, and Assessment

Research categories:  Educational Research/Social Science, Other
School/Dept.: Engineering Education
Professor: Monica Cox
Preferred major(s): Engineering (any discipline)
Desired experience:   We welcome engineering students with expertise across a wide range of research area including engineering education areas and methods, curriculum design, and technology in education. Students who have had experience in cooperative group work and/or team-based project are encouraged to apply. Basic computer skill competency is required (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, etc.).
Number of positions: 2

This research project seeks to advance Engineering Leadership research and support creation of an innovative curriculum being developed in Engineering Leadership @ Purdue (ELP). The successful student will work on creation and validation of a tool assessing engineering student’s leadership abilities as well as analyze artifacts (e.g., electronic portfolio, social media platform, etc.) that highlight engineering students’ past and current leadership skills.
The successful student will work collaborative with graduate students in researching and developing engineering leadership content. This position is especially suited for someone with an applied research background and for students with a highly integrated, forward-thinking approach to teaching and research in engineering leadership.

 

Evaluating the Maintenance and Diffusion of Water Conservation Best Management Practices in the Great Bend of the Wabash River Watershed

Research categories:  Agricultural, Educational Research/Social Science, Environmental Science
School/Dept.: Forestry and Natural Resources
Professor: Linda Prokopy
Preferred major(s): no strong preference
Desired experience:   Prior experience with or knowledge of appropriate and sustainable water resource best management practices (BMPs) such as rain gardens and rain barrels a plus. Experience with outdoor field work also a plus.
Number of positions: 1

This project will characterize the adoption, maintenance and diffusion of water quality and climate change BMPs in the Region of the Great Bend of the Wabash River Watershed (Tippecanoe County). The project has three primary objectives. First, it will determine what motivates urban and suburban landowners to adopt and maintain stormwater conservation BMPs. Second, it will identify how stormwater conservation BMPs spread or diffuse throughout a community. Third, it will determine specific watershed management planning recommendations for setting adoption goals and reaching potential adopters for the Wabash River Enhancement Corporation (WREC), an environmental non-profit organization working in the Region of the Great Bend of the Wabash River Watershed.

To understand what motivates the adoption and maintenance of these BMPs in this watershed, an assessment of both the property owner/manager and the actual practice will be conducted. The SURF student will aid in the assessments of the actual practices. Implemented projects will be photo-monitored by the student to document project maintenance and physical assessments of the BMP will be conducted. These physical assessments will include the quality of practice implementation, plant growth and cover assessment, erosion or compaction issue identification, and notation of any issues or problems with the BMP that may reduce its effectiveness.

 

Evaluation of Teaching Practices within Undergraduate Engineering Courses

Research categories:  Educational Research/Social Science, Other
School/Dept.: Engineering Education
Professor: Monica Cox
Preferred major(s): Engineering (any discipline)
Desired experience:   Strong written and verbal communication skills, Excel analysis
Number of positions: 1-2

The Global Real-time Assessment Tool for Teaching Enhancement (G-RATE) was developed in an effort to provide multidimensional direct observational feedback to engineering instructors about their instructional interactions in a classroom. This study is based on the “How People Learn” (HPL) framework (Bransford, Brown, and Cocking, 1999). The HPL framework identifies four dimensions which are essential elements of an effective learning environment (1) learner-centeredness, (2) knowledge-centeredness, (3) assessment-centeredness, and (4) community-centeredness. After observing an instructor’s interactions in a classroom, a report is compiled for the instructor to provide feedback about o their teaching. The reports will provide the instructor with a deep insight into his or her pedagogical practices that they could then use to improve their teaching. Through this tool, we hope to investigate:
1.Does G-RATE feedback affect the development of instructors’ (i.e., engineering faculty and GTAs) pedagogical (teaching) expertise?
2. What is the relationship between this feedback and undergraduate student outcomes (e.g., grades) within observed environments?

The student researcher will engage in G-RATE commercialization activities and research over the course of the summer along with maintenance and editing of the G-RATE manual.

 

Global Engineering Competency: Definitions, Development Paths, and Situational Assessment

Research categories:  Educational Research/Social Science, Other
School/Dept.: Engineering Education
Professor: Brent Jesiek
Preferred major(s): Any
Desired experience:   Engineering and non-engineering students encouraged to apply. Previous coursework and/or experience in relevant social science fields (e.g., education, psychology, sociology) preferred but not required.
Number of positions: 1

In a time of intensified globalization, engineering educators and employers face the formidable task of preparing engineers to be more effective in diverse national and cultural contexts. Responding to this challenge, our current research aims to: 1) generate a robust definition and developmental theory of global engineering competency, and 2) create a high quality situational judgment test (SJT) that can be used to assess multiple dimensions of global engineering competency. The undergraduate research assistant assigned to this project will contribute directly to this ambitious and exciting work, including by supporting analysis and reporting of quantitative and qualitative data collected through survey instrument pilots and expert interviews. The student selected for this position will also have ample opportunities to be mentored by and learn from both the lead faculty investigator and members of his large and vibrant research group, the Global Engineering Education Collaboratory (GEEC).