At the beginning of this semester, chemical engineering professor Isabel Escobar and civil engineering associate professor Sebastian Bryson launched a new Scholars Program in Undergraduate Research. The University of Kentucky College of Engineering has a long history of strong undergraduate research and several faculty members have even published academic papers with undergraduate students.
“I enjoy seeing students get opportunities because of their research activities, such as being able to present their research at domestic and international conferences,” Bryson said when registration opened. “If only for the mentorship opportunities, every engineering undergraduate should seek to have at least one undergraduate research experience.”
The program had five research groups during its inaugural semester. There were three teams of two students and two three-person teams at the Lexington campus and two teams of two at the University of Kentucky College of Engineering Extended Campus in Paducah.
The topics of research included: Origami-inspired building envelope for wind-storm resilient low-rise structures; Investigating N Levels in a Stream; Advanced Materials from Industrial Hemp Using Deep Eutectic Solvent for Clean Water Applications; Calibration of 3D Scanners for the Autonomous Monitoring of Paved Surfaces; Hydraulic Models for Water Distribution Systems in Kentucky; Conversion of Waste Plastic from Water Systems to a Fuel Oil and Properties of Coarse-Grained Bulk Ionic Liquids.
To conclude the semester, all of the research groups presented posters detailing their research findings at the 2018 Showcase of Undergraduate Scholars. The event was held April 25 in the WT Young Library. The UK Paducah teams used Zoom to present their posters and answer questions.
“All of the groups seemed very happy with the quality of their research and their presentations,” said Escobar. “I overheard people expressing total shock when the students would say they were freshmen and sophomores.”