Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research vitally complements undergraduate education by expanding your classroom knowledge toward the edge of engineering knowledge. Research is creative, exploratory, methodical, and rewarding. I’m motivated to recruit students who are intrigued by some of the topics below. If you have your own research idea to propose, then I’d love to learn more about it!

  • Material Science of Alternative Binders – The production of Portland cement, the key ingredient in Portland cement concrete, generates upwards of 5-7 % of worldwide carbon-dioxide emissions, a leading greenhouse gas. Alternative binders are continually being explored within civil engineering in order to offset or replace Portland cement. In this study, one or more students would explore the material and mechanical properties of acrylic concrete, which is a composite that utilizes waste acrylic paint. Discoveries made at the microscale using SEM/EDS equipment will inform mechanical (Instron) and material performance.
  • Bio-Fiber Reinforced Concrete – Drs. Castaneda and Kirkvold, among others, are leading a collaborative study where hemp fibers and hurd, an agricultural waste product in the Shenandoah Valley, will be used in concrete mixtures to explore effects on mechanical performance, dimensional stability, and change to chemical hydration reactions. Students involved in the project will be involved with all aspects of the study and take leadership roles in their areas of interest.
  • Citizen (Science) Engineering – Forthcoming community partnerships will create opportunities to engage people in the community in “citizen engineering” projects. Faculty and student researchers will interact with members of the community on specific engineering projects that benefit the community and generate new knowledge about inclusivity in engineering research and practice.

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