Sixteen students successfully completed a summer of research at Texas A&M University. Six faculty members in the Turbomachinery Laboratory and eight others throughout the College of Engineering served as mentors to the students working closely on currently active research projects in energy and propulsion research.
This is the third summer the Turbo Lab has facilitated the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site in Energy and Propulsion and overall the eighth summer of the site under the direction of Dr. Eric Petersen, director of the Turbo Lab, and Dr. James Thomas, a postdoctoral researcher at the Turbo Lab. Funded primarily by the National Science Foundation (NSF) with contributions from the Turbo Lab, this REU site is a ten-week summer program that immerses undergraduate students from across the U.S. in graduate-level research.
Selected participants work closely with the faculty mentors and prepare a research plan, abstract, technical paper, and research poster. This year’s Undergraduate Research Symposium poster session represents the culmination of engaging science exploration. The students’ work was a part of more than 100 poster presentations from a variety of engineering disciplines.
Seventy-five percent of participants from the Energy and Propulsion REU site end up going to grad school, Petersen said. Petersen finalizes the student participant list and assigns each student chosen for the program to their faculty mentor based on research interests. This year the program accepted a total of 16 students, eight of whom are sponsored by the Turbo Lab. These eight students, from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell; University of Texas, Permian Basin; Rutgers University; Le Tourneau University; Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville; Trinity College; University of Cyprus; and Texas A&M University were mentored by Turbo Lab professors Petersen, Dr. Luis San Andres, Dr. Waruna Kulatilaka, Dr. Adolfo Delgado, Dr. Alan Palazzolo and Dr. Lesley Wright.“This is a great opportunity for undergraduates to do high-quality research and to see what it’s like to go to grad school,” Petersen said. “The goal is to encourage participants to pursue an advanced degree in a STEM field.”
Students conducted research with guidance from university professors and graduate students—an experience they might not have otherwise gained at their own university. Their research can have a global impact, as they investigate issues that could ultimately affect global warming, finite fossil fuel resources, pollution and providing energy to an increasing world population. In addition to their daily research activities, students attended lunchtime seminars, participated in REU functions, delivered two oral presentations and presented a final poster.
The program covers room and travel expenses as well as a stipend of $5,000 for student participants. The 10-week site began May 29 and ran until August 2, 2019.
This is a great opportunity for undergraduates to do high-quality research and to see what it’s like to go to grad school. The goal is to encourage participants to pursue an advanced degree in a STEM field.
Dr. Eric Petersen
Turbo Lab director
The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) Turbomachinery Laboratory makes a vital impact on turbomachinery and related industries through research, education and professional workforce development.