Armour College of Engineering Undergrads Busy with Fall Armour R&D Projects

Armour_Logo_Website.jpgTwenty-five Armour College of Engineering (ACE) undergraduate students were awarded funds to participate in the Fall 2014 Armour R&D Program. This competitive program offers undergraduate engineering students the opportunity to gain a more complete understanding of the research and development process, preparing them for further success after graduation. Students are selected to participate in the program based on merit and are sponsored through Armour College of Engineering, IIT Wanger Institute for Sustainable Energy Research (WISER), Pritzker Institute of Biomedical Science and Engineering at IIT, and IIT Institute for Food Safety and Health (IFSH). Half of the funded students were newcomers, while the other half were returning to the program to further their research and development.

Armour R&D includes the Program for Undergraduate Research Education (PURE) and Mentored INovation and Development (MIND). Students selected to participate in PURE will have an opportunity to team with an IIT Faculty mentor on an engineering research project and gain valuable research experience. Those selected under the MIND program will develop technology based on research findings. Students will explore new applications of ongoing research and/or work towards the utilization of innovative technology.

The projects are categorized under the four IIT Engineering Themes: Water, Health, Energy, and Security. These themes are areas in which engineers can generate solutions of global impact that advance society.

Isabel Arias (BME, 2nd year) and Eric Brey, Professor of Biomedical Engineering will start work on their PURE project, Role of Growth Media Variation in the Formation of Mineralized Tissue In Vitro. The team will perform image analysis of engineered tissues to determining which media combination yields the most vasculature and bone formation and they will learn about the optimal environment for bone graft vascularization in vitro. The goal of the research is to engineer vascularized bone grafts for patients who have suffered trauma, congenital defects, or cancer.

Szu-Chun Chen (BME, 3rd year) and Georgia Papavasiliou, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, will work on their PURE project, Effect of Nanoparticle Characteristics and Loading Density of Scaffold Properties and Cell invasion. They will conduct research to improve the construction of biomaterial scaffolds used for tissue engineering. The team seeks to quantify the effect of nanoparticle loading density on the mechanical properties (elastic modulus) and physical structure (swelling ratio) of hydrogel scaffolds and to determine the effect of nanoparticle type and loading density on the ability to visualize cells within the scaffolds.

Ritika Dhawan (BME, 4th year) and Georgia Papavasiliou, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering will further explore their PURE project, Doxycicline loaded nanoparticles for healing of anastomotic leaks. The team will develop a methodology to enhance the encapsulation efficiency of doxycycline (DOX) in polylactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) nanoparticles. They will then quantify the effects of nanoparticle polymer degradation rate on QK, a VEGF-A 165 (VEGF) mimetic peptide, and DOX release kinetics over a period of three months. The project aims to enhances in tissue regeneration by stimulating the neovascularization of damaged tissue while the sustained release of DOX can be used to control matrix breakdown.

Nicole Frantz (BME, 3rd year) and Ali Cinar, Director of the Engineering Center for Diabetes Research and Education and Professor of Chemical Engineering will continue their PURE project, The Effects of Exercise in Blood Glucose Concentration. The goal of the research is understand the effects of exercise on the variations in blood glucose concentrations. This will allow the team to develop artificial control algorithms that automatically adjust insulin infusion rates as a patient with Type 1 diabetes begins to exercise.

Roshani Patil (BME, 4th year) and Kenneth Tichauer, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, will begin their PURE project, Identification of Optimal Fluorophores for Dual-tracer Fluorescence Molecular Imaging to Quantify Cancer Specific Cell Surface Receptor Concentration. They hope to reduce the image time and improve the signal to noise ratio when using the Dual-tracer fluorescence imaging and kinetic modeling (DTFKM) method, pioneered by Tichauer, to quantify drug-target molecule concentrations in a tumor. This research can help guide personalized therapy for treating cancer.

Yusra Sarhan (BME, 2nd year) and David Mogul, Interim Chair of Biomedical Engineering and Professor of Biomedical Engineering, will build on previous work completed as part of PURE. Their project, Finding Improved Protocols for Using Deep-Brain Stimulation for Treating Epileptic Seizures in Rats, aims to learn more about the electrophysiological aspect of epilepsy. Additional research is required to develop more efficient treatments for epileptic patients. The team hopes to achieve this by finding improved protocols for using deep-brain stimulation to treat epileptic seizures in rats, and one day, humans.

Sijia Wu (BME, 3rd year) and Jovan G. Brankov, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will begin work on their PURE project, Three-dimensional Quantitative Imaging of Molecular Heterogeneity in Tumor Specimens. They hope to develop a molecular imaging system capable of providing rapid three-dimensional analysis of molecular heterogeneity with microscopic resolution, so that the cancer of an individual can be treated accordingly with the optimal cancer-targeting therapeutics.

Olha Zvarych (ChE, 1st year), Fouad Teymour, Johnson Polymer Professor and Director of the Center for Complex Systems Dynamics, and Britt Burton-Freeman, Director of the Center for Nutrition Research at IIT Institute for Food Safety and Health and Associate Professor of Food Science and Nutrition, will begin their MIND project, Development of Engineering Devices for Affordable Nutrition. They will explore the potential of using airlift photobioreactors in a process they call kinetic hydroponic farming, for the sprouting and growth of various seeds and grains. The team will develop an experimental bioreactor design aimed at studying the factors that affect the growth and production rate of sprouts and then perform the experiments in the laboratory reactor available. They will also conduct chemical and biological safety experiments on sampled sprouts from each set of experiments. This project could help reduce the number of people suffering from malnutrition.

Leonardo Bellincanta de Souza (EE) and Sohail Murad, Department Chair of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Professor of Chemical Engineering will begin work on their PURE project, Role of Ion Exchange Membranes on Redox Flow Batteries. They will seek to improve the storage capacities of renewable energy systems. To facilitate this they will analyze and compare current models of Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRBs) with a goal of developing more efficient types of Ion Exchange Membranes (IEMs).

Ming Chen (EE, 3rd year) and Alexander Flueck, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will resume their PURE project, Faster than Real-Time Power System Dynamics Simulation. The team will strive to increase the reliability of the electric grid by developing computer models and software that can predict the effects of disturbances faster than real-time.

Dina Curioni (ArchE, 4th year), Nina Townley (ArchE, 3rd year) and Brent Stephens, Assistant Professor of Civil and Architectural Engineering will conduct research for their PURE project, Energy and Environmental Characterization of an Unoccupied Test Apartment on IIT’s Campus. The team will strive to better understand the effects dimensional space and areas, building materials and equipment, and seasonal changes have on the exchange of energy.

Delon DeBose (CE, 3rd year) and Brent Stephens, Assistant Professor of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering will continue previous Armour R&D work with their MIND project, Wireless Connectivity of Open Source Building Science Sensors. They aim to create a network of Open Source Building Science Sensors (OSBSS) that will be a cost-effective and reliable way to monitor environmental conditions within a building. DeBose and Stephens will be developing the wireless connectivity in each device by experimenting with the capabilities of different wireless devices.

Yanxin Li (ChE, 3rd year) and Vijay Ramani, Hyosung S. R. Cho Endowed Chair Professor of Chemical Engineering, will work on their PURE project: Hydrogen Evolution Reaction Catalyst for Solid-State Alkaline Water Electrolysis. The team hopes to reduce the cost of large-scale production of hydrogen by synthesizing cheaper electrocatalysts to be used in Hydrogen Evolution Reaction (HER). Improving large-scale hydrogen production will lead to a more sustainable energy supply.

Huilen Quiroga (ME, 4th year) and Carrie Hall, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, will begin their PURE project, Analysis of the Combustion Timing in Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition Engines. They will create a computer model of a Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) engine. The team will then study how variables such as intake temperature, changing fuel injection, and modulating the mixture of gases entering the cylinder affect the combustion timing of the HCCI engine. Once improvements have been made, HCCI engines promise to provide a substantial reduction in fuel consumption and reduction in nitrogen oxides and other pollutants emitted.

Nicholas Taluzek (AE, 4th year) and Dietmar Rempfer, Associate Dean of Engineering, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Professor of Applied Mathematics, hope to improve an alternative wind turbine design for their PURE project, Improving Vertical-Axis Wind Turbine Performance. With their project they hope to improve the design of vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT). The team will study variables such as: the orientation of the wind flow with respect to the coupled turbines, turbine size relations, blade orientation, and turbine phase differences. VAWTs offer many benefits over traditional turbines, for example, they operate at much slower tip-speeds, they can operate under any wind direction without the need for additional mechanics, and they are relatively easier to construct and maintain because most of the mechanical systems can be located at ground level.

Zhe Yi Soo (ME, 3rd Year) and Ankit Srivastava, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering will begin work on their PURE project, Determination propagation of sound waves in phononic crystal using photoelasticity method. They will work to increase understanding on how photoelasticity method is useful in observing sound waves movement. They are interested in understanding the fundamentals of sound waves propagation in phononic crystal (PnC) through experimental visualization using the photoelasticity method. By having a better understanding on how PnCs can control sound waves, a better technique for controlling noise can be achieved, with the goal of reducing noise pollution.

Rou Yi Yeap (ChE, 3rd year) and Brent Stephens, Assistant Professor of Civil and Architectural Engineering, will continue work on their PURE project, Modeling the Energy Impacts of Filter Fouling in Existing and Old Homes. They will research the energy impacts of dirty filters on heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. The team will be performing energy simulations on several prototypical homes in multiple climates. Filter pressure drop and HVAC airflow rate data will be collected from literature and via experiments in an apartment unit test facility in Carman Hall. Their goal is to reduce the amount of energy used by HVAC systems and to determine how often air filters should be replaced.

David Finol (AeroE, 3rd year) and Ankit Srivastava, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, will continue work on their PURE project from Summer 2014, Flutter Migration Through Tuned Mass Damping. The team will focus on the design, development, and testing of the primary concept of a control damping system to reduce flutter mitigation on aircraft wings. This project will increase the overall safety of the aircraft by making the wings more stable when faced with aerodynamic forces such as “aeroelasticity.”

Georgi Hristov (AeroE, 5th year) and David Williams, Director of the Fluid Dynamics Research Center and Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering will resume work on their PURE project, Innovative Control Effectors for Maneuvering of Air Vehicles. They will experimentally test a developed model which calculates the effectiveness of a circulation control wing in roll maneuver and predicts its ability to replace conventional ailerons. Mr. Georgi Hristov is going to assist Professor Williams in acquiring, analyzing, and processing data relevant to Circulation Control and its applications to improve the maneuverability in Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAV) and other aircraft.

Joaquin Lares (ME, 4th year) and Matthew Spenko, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, will further explore their prior PURE project, Vehicle-Terrain Interaction. The team will strive to better understand the relationship between pressure-sinkage and wheel diameter-to-width ratio on different types of soils, based on data collected during the summer. Their project could lead to Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) such as the Mars Curiosity Rover and explosive ordinance disposal drones that have better traction in their changing environments.

Ibrahim Tamimi (ArchE, 4th year) and Mehdi Modares, Assistant Professor of Civil and Architectural Engineering, will begin work on their PURE project, Sensor-Based Structural Health Monitoring in Tall Buildings. The objective of this research is to create a sensor‐based system to monitor the health of tall buildings in order to enhance the building performance, serviceability, and reduce future repair costs.

Jose Gibaja (ME, 5th year) and Matthew Spenko, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, seek to improve the ability of robots to climb vertical surfaces with their PURE project, Electrostatic-Dry Adhesion in Bio-Inspired Robotics. They will study the characteristics of Gecko-like directional-dry adhesives in order to optimize their use in wall climbing robots that have a variety of military and civilian applications.

Cameron Ketchmark (EE, 4th year) and Joohee Kim, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will begin their PURE project, Improving Feature Descriptors for Pedestrian Detection. Through their research, they hope to improve the performance of feature descriptors in pedestrian recognition systems, specifically Scale-Invariant Feature Transform (SIFT) and Histograms of Oriented Gradients (HoG). These systems may lead to fewer pedestrian related traffic injuries in driver-assistant systems and an increase in security in video surveillance systems.

Jihad Zeid (ChE, 4th year) and Brent Stephens, Assistant Professor of Civil and Architectural Engineering, will continue their PURE project, Transport of Outdoor Air Pollutants into the Indoor Environment. They will conduct research using an automated sampling system they created during the Spring 2014 PURE program. They will sample indoor environments for particulate matter of different sizes, ranging from micro-particles to ultrafine particles. They also hope to learn how certain building characteristics affect the leakage of outdoor air pollution into the indoor environment.