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:

Mechanical Systems

 

Atomistic Simulations of Gold-Silicon Interface

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Chemical, Civil and Construction, Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Industrial Engineering, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: School of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Professor: Michael Sangid
Desired experience:   Junior standing and ability to develop computer codes.
Number of positions: 1

The size of electronic devices has been decreasing steadily over the years and it is expected to continue that trend, as there is significant interest in the development to microelectronics and nanoelectronics for applications in the biomedical, sensing, data storage and high-performance computing fields, among others. With the increasing miniaturization of electronics, it is important to consider any effects that might happen in the interfaces at the nanometer scale, as the behavior of materials at this length scales may differ markedly from the behavior at the macroscopic scale. This project studies the interactions occurring in the interface between gold and silicon, materials selected due to their excellent properties as conductor and semiconductor, respectively, and their popularity in electronic circuits. The behavior of gold and silicon is expected to differ from the properties observed in the bulk and at larger scales, so it is crucial to analyze and understand the mechanisms of this behavior for the design and manufacture of microelectronic devices utilizing these materials. The research will involve Molecular Dynamics modeling of the gold-silicon interface. Additionally, this project will be complemented by other research opportunities in our lab.

 

Characterizing fiber reinforced composite materials

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Chemical, Civil and Construction, Industrial Engineering, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: School of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Professor: Michael Sangid
Preferred major(s): AAE, ME, or MSE
Desired experience:   Willingness to do hands-on work
Number of positions: 2

We are looking for a motivated, hard-working student interested in experimental composite materials research. This position is on a team investigating fiber orientation and length measurements in thermoplastic composites. These long fiber composites have a direct application to replace steel and aluminum structural alloys in the aerospace and automotive industries. Our team is comprised of Pacific Northwest National Lab, Autodesk, Plasticomp, Magna, Toyota, University of Illinois, and Purdue. Applicants will work under the mentorship of a graduate student and faculty member. The position includes hands on specimen preparation, in the form of extracting and polishing samples for fiber orientation measurements and melting samples and isolating the pertinent fibers for length measurements. Applicants should be undergraduate students interesting in composite materials.

 

CyberMech: A Novel Run-Time Substrate for Cyber-Mechanical Systems

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Civil and Construction, Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Electronics, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Civil Engineering
Professor: Arun Prakash
Preferred major(s): Structural Engineering, Civil, Mechanical, Aerospace, Computer Science, Electrical
Desired experience:   A strong background in the following areas is preferred: Mathematics, Computer Programming, Mechanics, Physics
Number of positions: 1

This project is also a joint collaborative project between myself, Prof. Shirley Dyke from Mech Eng., and faculty from Computer Science at Washington University (St. Louis). In this project, we are developing a computational platform that enables Real-Time Hybrid Simulations (RTHS) of complex structural systems. As opposed to a pure numerical simulation, a hybrid simulation is one where we have a physical specimen of a particular structural component (say a magneto-rheological damper - that is used to control vibrations of structures such as buildings, bridges, automobiles, air-planes, or space structures), that is combined with a numerical model of the entire structure (in real-time) to simulate how this component would behave / control the oscillations of the full structure. This is a handy approach, because it is difficult and expensive to do actual full-scale testing of the component on large scale structures. The challenges associated with this project are first to devise effective coupling mechanisms that allow 'simulating' the physical component (MR damper) as if it were connected in-place within a large structure, and then to develop a computational platform that enables fast, real-time, control and testing of the component combined in different ways with the numerical model of the entire structure.

 

Designing of micro tools for a surgical robot

Research categories:  Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Industrial Engineering
Professor: Juan Wachs
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering
Desired experience:   CAD and experience machining small tools. Good programming experience. Interest in robotics
Number of positions: 1

The research project consists of designing and machining micro-tools for a surgical robot (the Taurus). The tools need to fit the tool tip of the existing robot, but be functional, exchangeable, and highly effective. We already have tweezers and a scalpel. We want to extend our toolset to surgical scissors, and a laser pointer. This project is in collaboration with SRI International in Menlo Park (some of the developers of the Da-Vinci).

 

Development of a new wind sensor

Research categories:  Agricultural, Electronics, Environmental Science, Innovative Technology/Design, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Professor: Jiqin (Jee-Chin) Ni
Preferred major(s): Electrical engineering; computer engineering; mechanical engineering
Desired experience:   Hands-on and technical writing skills, knowledge and experience in electronics.
Number of positions: 1

This project is to develop an innovative and compact wind speed and direction sensor. It is expected to have wide applications. The student’s contribution will be (1) select materials for the sensor and an electronic device; (2) build a prototype sensor and the device that acquires, converts, and displays sensor output; (3) test the sensor and the device; (4) assist in preparing an invention disclosure.

 

Distributed Hybrid Simulation for Dynamical Systems to Natural Hazards

Research categories:  Civil and Construction, Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Shirley Dyke
Preferred major(s): Mechanical, Civil Engineering; Computer Science or Engineering
Desired experience:   Matlab knowledge is very helpful. Experience with differential equations preferred.
Number of positions: 1

Real-time hybrid simulation (RTHS) is an emerging technique that allows for cost-effective testing of dynamical systems. HS combines physical experimentation with computational simulation to understand how structures and lifelines respond to earthquakes and other natural hazards. RTHS executes this class of test at the actual speed of the earthquake input by using embedded systems with real-time computing capabilities to communicate among experimental and computational resources. In this project we aim to advance the state of the art in RTHS through the use of distributed environments. Both the physical simulation (a building structure) and the computational (controllers and computational models) aspects of the testing require efforts to ensure that a test is conducted in a reliable and accurate manner. Students working on this project will be engaged in learning how to conduct physical experimentation and execute computational models to gain knowledge that will advance the state of RTHS.

 

Mobile Microrobotics

Research categories:  Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: David Cappelleri
Preferred major(s): Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or related experience
Desired experience:   Proficiency in C-based language programming, LabVIEW, Image processing (OpenCV), and hardware interfacing (analog or digital I/O). Electronics experience would be helpful.
Number of positions: 1

Mobile microrobots offer unprecedented capabilities for observing and interacting with the world that are not possible with conventional macro-scale systems. A critical issue in the design of mobile microrobots is the generation of wireless power and methods of converting that power into locomotion. We have successfully used externally applied magnetic fields for the power and actuation of individual magnetic mobile microrobots. We have also come up with novel tumbling microrobot designs to overcome the challenge of large surface forces at the micro-scale. In the case of multiple microrobots, all the robots in the workspace will be exposed to identical control signals. Thus, in order to achieve different behaviors from individual robots needed for advanced manufacturing tasks, there must be either significant variation in their design or in the magnetic control signals applied to each microrobot. Therefore, we are working a specialized control substrate for local targeting of the magnetic forces at a fine resolution to be able to independently control multiple microrobots at the same time.

In this project, the SURF student will develop a custom program to control the various types of magnetic microrobots we are working with. Image processing to identify where the microrobot is and then logic to determine what magnetic coil to turn on/off will need to be determined and the appropriate control signals generated. The student should be proficient in C-based language programming, LabVIEW, OpenCV, and hardware interfacing (analog or digital I/O). The SURF student will work with a post-doc on the project.

 

Modeling and Control of a Hydraulic Hybrid Transmission

Research categories:  Agricultural, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: ABE
Professor: Monika Ivantysynova
Preferred major(s): ME, ABE
Desired experience:   Matlab/Simulink, System Control
Number of positions: 1

The student participating in this project will be involved in the modeling and control of a new hydraulic hybrid transmission. Ongoing research at the Maha Lab focuses on investigating novel hydraulic hybrid transmission architectures for both on-road and off-highway applications. In previous studies fuel savings of 30 to 70% have been seen with hydraulic hybrid transmissions depending on application. To further this research a hardware-in-the-loop transmission test rig was built at the Maha lab.

The chosen student will begin by working with a graduate researcher to develop a simulation model of the existing transmission. This simulation model will then be used by the student to investigate various power management strategies to maximize system efficiency. Next the student will develop an implementable controller based on the chosen power management strategy. Finally the summer will culminate with the student implementing their controller on the transmission test rig and measuring its performance.

 

New Materials to Reduce Losses in Hydraulic Machines

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: ABE
Professor: Monika Ivantysynova
Preferred major(s): ME, ABE
Desired experience:   MATLAB, CFD, FEA, C++
Number of positions: 1

This project aims to improve the performance of axial piston hydraulic units. The undergraduate researcher will use an existing Fluid Structure Interaction model to simulate the piston/cylinder interface, investigating several material combinations. A set of material combinations will be defined for investigation, although additional combinations defined by the researcher are welcome. There may also be opportunities for model development throughout the project.

The project is well suited to an undergraduate student interested in fluid power, tribology, material science, and virtual prototyping. Previous experience or coursework with fluid power, fluid dynamics, tribology, MATLAB, C++, Computational Fluid Dynamics, and Finite Element Analysis is desired but not required.

 

Radiation Intensity Measurements and Data Analysis for Premixed Turbulent Lean Combustion

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: ME
Professor: Jay Gore
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering
Desired experience:   Coursework in thermodynamics, heat transfer, and/or fluid mechanics is desired. Prior experience working in a laboratory or performing data analysis are strongly encouraged to apply.
Number of positions: 1

Turbulent combustion and the associated radiation heat transfer are important in most energy conversion, power and propulsion, and transportation applications. An accurate understanding of radiation transfer in turbulent reacting and non-reacting flows is critical for improving energy efficiencies and reducing emissions such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and soot. Experimental and computational studies of the radiation intensity from turbulent flows are being conducted to achieve these objectives. Example problems include: (1) Fundamental studies of turbulent premixed lean flames, (2) Using high speed Infrared (IR) camera to measure narrow band radiation intensity, (3) Using Fast Infrared Array Spectrometer (FIAS) to measure broad band radiation intensity, and (4) Statistical analysis and comparison of experimental infrared radiation data to computational results.

The SURF student will contribute to measurements and data analysis of radiation intensity from turbulent premixed lean flames at varying view angles and distances. A fast infrared array spectrometer and high speed infrared camera will be utilized. Image processing and inverse analysis techniques will be used to interpret temperature and gas species concentration distributions. Statistical analysis will also be applied to the radiation intensity measurements. In this project, the SURF student will learn the fundamentals of radiation heat transfer experiments in participating media such as turbulent flames.

 

Roll-to-Roll Robots

Research categories:  Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Rebecca Kramer
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering
Desired experience:   Desired skills include CAD design, control system design, machining, and a desire to learn.
Number of positions: 2

Our lab is focused on responsive materials and soft robotics. This field is limited by the small size of the substrates commonly used during the fabrication of a soft robot. We propose to develop a "roll-to-roll" system to provide semi-infinite substrates. The concept is to unspool a polymer film from one roll, over a processing bed, and onto another roll. This system must be mechanically compatible with several instruments in our laboratory, including a laser etching system, micron-scale 3D printer, and 3D optical microscope. The SURF students participating in this project will be responsible for designing, fabricating, and testing a prototype mechanism which we will use to perform proof-of-concept studies on the concept of "printed robots". This mechanism will be computer controlled, and will include position and torque control. Desired skills include CAD design, control system design, machining, and of course a desire to learn. We are looking for a small team of 2-3 students to work on this project. The team will work directly with Ph.D. students in the Fabrication Laboratory.

 

SLEEC: Semantically-enriched libraries for effective exa-scale computation

Research categories:  Aerospace Engineering, Civil and Construction, Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Electronics, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Civil Engineering
Professor: Arun Prakash
Preferred major(s): Structural Engineering, Civil, Mechanical, Aerospace, Computer Science, Electrical
Desired experience:   A strong background in the following areas is preferred: Mathematics, Computer Programming, Mechanics, Physics
Number of positions: 1

This project is in joint collaboration between myself, faculty in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at Purdue, and a Computational Research Scientist at Sandia National Labs (Albuquerque NM). What we are doing is trying to improve the performance of library subroutines that are commonly employed to solve problems in solid and fluid mechanics, using finite element methods on very large parallel computers, for instance. Most computational libraries are based on well-formulated mathematical operations, however, when researchers utilize these libraries in their own applications, they are unable to transmit this rich mathematical information to the library and to the underlying hardware. We are devising ways to allow researchers to add/annotate these libraries with useful mathematical information that will allow the computer system to make optimizations on the fly to improve the performance of large computational applications. The challenges associated with this project are first to come up with the right set of mathematical information that can enable such performance improvement, and then to find ways to encode into the libraries in a sufficiently general way so that researchers from different disciplines (solids / fluids) may be able to utilize these libraries to their application programs.

 

Study on fluid structure phenomena

Research categories:  Agricultural, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: ABE
Professor: Monika Ivantysynova
Preferred major(s): ME, ABE
Desired experience:   Matlab, C++
Number of positions: 1

The research goal of this research project is a study of the lubrication film between piston and cylinder of axial piston pump or motor using a custom-developed fluid structure interaction model, which captures the impact of macro and micro motion, fluid and material properties, heat transfer, surface shape and surface elastic deformations. This in house developed tool will be used to conduct numerous simulations to better understand the physical phenomena affecting the lubrication. This project also provides an opportunity to study new design ideas like surface shaping and material impacting on the performance of the fluid film.

This project is well suited to a student who is willing to have a deeper understanding of computational fluid dynamic analysis. Previous experience with Matlab, C++ and completed coursework in fluid power, fluid dynamic, heat transfer and lubrication is highly preferred.

 

Surgical Incision and Suture using the Tauros Robot

Research categories:  Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Industrial Engineering
Professor: Juan Wachs
Preferred major(s): ECE, ME, Computer Science
Desired experience:   Very good experience programming in C/C++. High GPA. Willing to work with cool robots!
Number of positions: 1

This project is about designing the framework for allowing our existing Taurus surgical robot to perform surgical incision and sutures on a simulator. Currently the system allows control using free hand movements and pedals controls. We are interested in shifting the control to shared (half autonomous, half supervised).
The potential impact of developing the framework for a mobile robot, small, and highly dexterous to support surgery is huge.

The student contribution will be specifically in modeling the surgical tasks, using modeling tools, machining new tools at the micro-scale, and the development of the code for controlling the robot.

 

Tumor-Microenvironment-On-Chip To Mimic Tumor Heterogeneity

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Bumsoo Han
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Biomedical Engineering
Desired experience:   Fluid Mechanics, Heat and Mass Transfer, Biology
Number of positions: 1

This project is to develop and validate a new in vitro tumor model to study tumor heterogeneity. Tumor heterogeneity is one of the most significant and unmet challenges of oncology. Existing tumor models including animal models are not adequate to systematically study and understand its implication on the treatment outcome. In order to address this, my laboratory is developing a new tumor model using tissue engineering and microfluidic technologies which can mimic in vivo tumors of breast cancer. The SURF fellow will participate in this project to characterize the response of various breast cancers to chemotherapeutic drugs and their nanoparticle formulations.

 

Visualizing Mechanics - Developing Instructional Videos for Mechanics Education

Research categories:  Mechanical Systems, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Jeff Rhoads
Preferred major(s): Mechanical Engineering or a related field
Desired experience:   Knowledge of basic solid mechanics and dynamics is essential. Video production skills are a plus, as is a desire to appear on camera.
Number of positions: 2

This non-traditional research effort seeks to build upon prior efforts by the PI and his research group via the development of additional YouTube-style videos for his Visualizing Mechanics movie series. Specifically, students will be tasked with concept development, experimental design, video production, and post-processing. Students will work hand-in-hand with faculty members and other students to successfully achieve stated goals.