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Undergraduate Programs

Xerox Engineering Research Fellows

2019 Research Opportunities

Mechanical Engineering

Professor Renato Perucchio
Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Archaeology, Technology and Historical Structures

Project Description

My research and teaching interests are in computational solid and structural mechanics, in the development of engineering practices in antiquity, and in the study of heritage buildings in earthquake-prone areas. Ongoing research projects open to qualified undergraduates are in the structural analysis of historic monumental masonry buildings subjected to earthquake loading.

My principal collaborators are University of Rochester Professor Chris Muir, ME, and Professor Michael Jarvis, History; Professor Christopher DeCorse, Anthropology, Syracuse University; Professors Kodzo Gavua and William Gblerkpor, Archaeology and Heritage Studies, University of Ghana.

Specific objectives for summer 2019:

  1. Determine the constructions history, assess the damage state, and determine the seismic vulnerability of the Elmina Castle, Ghana (1482, Portuguese, Dutch, English). Built in 1482 by the Portuguese Crown, St. Jorge Castle at Elmina is the oldest permanent structure introduced by Europeans in Sub-Saharan Africa. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Elmina Castle is a monument of extraordinary, unique importance for understanding four centuries of interactions between West Africa, Europe, and the Americas beginning with the late 15th century and culminating with the Atlantic Slave Trade of the 17th and 18th centuries. Furthermore, due to its meticulous planning and continuous restoration, the building itself is the best-preserved and most complete example of European late-medieval masonry construction transplanted in SubSaharan Africa. The overarching goal of this multidisciplinary research is to perform an integrated archaeological, historical, and engineering study of the Elmina Castle using state-of-the-art methodologies and instrumentation. Summer Field School  of several engineering students (two fully supported by Xerox fellowships in 2018). 2018 Field School participants are currently involved in constructing a detailed model using Siemens NX CAD system to serve as the basis for building construction analysis and structural FEM numerical modeling. Xerox Fellows are strongly encouraged to apply for Summer 2019.
  2. Determine the structural response and the conditions for structural collapse for the Frigidarium of the Bath of Diocletian in Rome (298-305 AD) subjected to a horizontal acceleration. This is a gigantic vaulted structure built on unreinforced pozzolanic concrete on which we have already done extensive linear and nonlinear finite element modeling (FEM). We have also applied kinematic limit analysis based on the damaged configurations predicted by the nonlinear FEM models. Since 2010, the Xerox Fellowship has supported six students working on the static and dynamic analysis of Roman concrete vaults, leading to several journal and conference (national and international) publications. Xerox Fellows are welcome for Summer 2019.
  3. Determine the structural response and the conditions for seismic collapse for concrete vaulted structures built by the Maya in the Puuc region of Yucatan, Mexico (Late Classic, ~1,000 AD). Puuc architecture is characterized by the usage of excellent lime concrete with mechanical and physical properties similar to modern Portland concrete. Maya vaulted structures – ranging from relatively small halls inside temples or palaces to large gateway arches – are often incorrectly assumed to behave structurally as corbelled arches, held in equilibrium by superimposed projecting stone blocks. In reality, due to their inner solid concrete core, Maya vaults behave structurally like an elastic continuum, quite similar to Roman concrete vaults. We are beginning a project aiming at investigating the static and dynamic (seismic) response and failure mechanisms of typical Puuc vaults using FEM models and kinematic limit analysis. There are openings for undergraduate participation and Xerox Fellows are welcome in Summer 2019.

Engineering undergraduates participating in these projects are trained in the application of fundamental modeling techniques widely used for research and product development in many areas of modern engineering: solid modeling reconstruction of complex geometries, 3D FEM linear and nonlinear analysis, kinematic limit analysis simulating 2D and 3D collapse mechanism. Students will be encouraged – and guided - to submit conference and journal papers based on their research results. Please contact Professor Perucchio if you are interested in applying.

Professor Jessica Shang
Department of Mechanical Engineering

Project Description

Research Project #1: Aquatic surface propulsion

Our lab is interested in locomotion methods for small, autonomous vehicles that can be used for exploration and reconnaissance in inaccessible places. We are currently investigating a novel method to swim along the surface using small, rapidly oscillating motions that is unlike most conventional biologically-inspired swimming methods. There are a few possible project directions, ranging from studying the flow structure generated by a robotic actuator that mimics this swimming method, to developing robotic prototypes to swim in both shallow and deep-water environments, to creating reproducible, wave-like conditions in a contained environment. Students with machine shop certification or experience with robotics/microcontrollers are encouraged to apply. 

Research Project #2: Measuring surface waves in the wake

An object moving at the surface of water disturbs the clean, planar interface, and leaves a wavy, trailing perturbation in its wake. We can see this in the wake of boat and also around partially submerged engineering structures such as off-shore wind turbines or bridge supports. The flow field is complex, and depends on the speed of the object, the shape, the depth of the immersion, among other factors, and the waves generated by the object can break, producing a bubbly, turbulent flow. The surface wave profile is one indicator of the hydrodynamic forces being experienced by an object. While we know that changing the wettability of a submerged object (e.g., making it hydrophobic or hydrophilic) can result in turbulent drag reduction, we do not know if wettability can similarly modify wave drag or other interface effects. In this project, the student will acquire skills in wave measurement techniques to characterize the surface waves generated by bodies of different wettabilities. 

Professor Jong-Hoon Nam
Department of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering

Project Description

Research Project: Mechano-transduction of the inner ear sensory organ

We study the mechano-transduction of the inner ear.  The cochlea, the mammalian hearing organ, turns mechanical stimuli (sounds) into neural signals. The identification of mechanical properties of cochlear sensory cells and tissues is crucial to better understand how we hear (or fail to hear). To measure the mechanical properties, we need to apply calibrated pressures in the order of mPa and measure displacements in nanometers at the frequency of up to tens of kHz.  Students will participate in measuring mechanical responses of artificial and biological microstructures in a micro-fluidic chamber system. Through this project, students will learn how the principles of acoustics, fluid dynamics, solid mechanics, and vibrations are applied to micro-mechanical experiments with biological tissues. Also, students will gain experiences with vibration measurement, imaging, and data acquisition devices.

Professor Hussein Aluie
Department of Mechanical Engineering

Project Description

Research Project Description

There are two components that regulate Earth's climate. These are fluid systems: (1) the atmosphere and (2) the ocean, which can transport heat from the equator toward the poles, thereby maintaining a habitable planet. This project involves working with satellite observations of oceanic flow that has been revolutionizing research in oceanic fluid dynamics over the past decade. The student will have the opportunity to learn and work with Python and/or Matlab, learn about and work with satellite datasets of the global ocean that is collected by NASA, ESA and other space agencies. The primary project objective is to implement novel analysis and diagnostics that our group has been developing on this data to understand some of the intriguing aspects of oceanic flow that is currently the subject of active research in the oceanography community. There is also the opportunity to port this data into different formats, so that it can be incorporated into the "Science on the Sphere" repository.