2016 - Protege

CEAS introduced nine new Undergraduate Protege Students for their summer 2016 research, Emily Belovich, Andrew Black, Mary Dickman, Ryan Durham, William Hobart, Paige Johnson, Jonathan Kenney, Maria Koenig, Elizabeth Sheetz, John Siegel, and Nathaniel Tiffany.

The protege program has been successful since it's pilot program in the summer of 2013. The program produces challenging summer research experiences for promising undergraduate students after their freshmen year. The program was designed by three Emeriti Professors, Dr. Jim Boerio, Dr. Ron Huston and Dr. Thomas Mantei and Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, Dr. Frank Gerner.

Electrical Engineering sophomore, Emily Belovich

Electrical Engineering sophomore, Emily Belovich

Over the summer Emily Belovich had the opportunity to intern at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). She worked in the Sensors Directorate in the Antennas and Electromagnetics Technology Branch (AFRL/RYMH) under the supervision of her advisor, Ms. Michelle Champion. Emily's main focus for the summer was the Liquid Metals for Reconfigurable Antennas project.

Gallium liquid metal alloys (GaLMAs) are commercially available, non-toxic, and are liquid at room temperature.  When confined to a channel, liquid metals create a conductive circuit that is reconfigurable if the flow of the liquid metal can be controlled. The properties of liquid metals allow them to potentially be used to create reconfigurable RF antennas.

However, there are several obstacles that make this concept difficult to implement. First, controlling the flow of liquid metal with an acceptable degree of accuracy is incredibly difficult. In addition, the chemistry of liquid metals must be better understood.  For example, liquid metals oxidize when exposed to air, which causes them to solidify and decreases the ability to control their flow.

Antennas have become necessary instruments on aircraft. However, because different antennas have different characteristics (such as operating frequency, bandwidth, and polarization to name a few) communication systems operating at different frequency ranges require multiple antennas. If one antenna could be reconfigured and change its characteristics, significant advantages could be achieved. The use of liquid metals to create reconfigurable RF antennas is attractive because their metallic nature allows for excellent conduction, while the fluidic nature allows free movement and reconfiguration.

AFRL has experimented with several different projects involving liquid metals, including various kinds of liquid metal antennas. The goal of her project was to continue this experimentation with an additional kind of antenna, an annular slot antenna. 

Emily completed background research, designed, simulated, optimized, fabricated, tested, and analyzed the behavior of an annular slot antenna that uses liquid metal to switch between circular and linear polarization.  The antenna was simulated using ANSYS HFSS (computer software use for antenna design), fabricated in the Materials Directorate (AFRL/RX), and tested in the ATEMS lab in RYMH.

By the end of the summer, a liquid metal annular slot antenna was successfully designed, simulated, fabricated, tested, and analyzed. The results show that the antenna exhibits both linear and circular polarization, accomplishing the primary goal for this project.


Computer Engineering sophomore, Andrew Black

Computer Engineering sophomore, Andrew Black

Computer engineering student Andrew Black worked under Dr. Yue Cui this summer, conducting research on a number of biosensor concepts. These include applications of silver paint and graphene for detection of chemicals such as ethanol and glucose, as well as exploring the possibility of creating flexible sensors to test for them in the bloodstream. Black explains, “If detection for these chemicals can be implanted in the body, or even just measured on a single, simple chip, medical personnel can save significant time in diagnosing and treating a patient.” Despite having no prior research experience, and limited experience with lab procedure, he was able to contribute significantly to five potential papers (publication efforts ongoing).

Black is a CEAS Honors student and Cincinnatus Excellence scholarship recipient. He is also enrolled in the UC ACCEND Program, with the goal of achieving a master’s degree in computer science, as well as minors in computer science and mathematics.


Mechanical Engneering sophomore, Mary Dickman

Mechanical Engneering sophomore, Mary Dickman

This summer, as a part of the Protégé summer research program, Mary Dickman worked in the Gas Dynamics and Propulsion Laboratory at the University of Cincinnati on the Jet Noise Prediction and Reduction projects under Dr. Gutmark.

These projects focused on the production of noise due to turbulence in the flow from large-scale and heated jets, with the ultimate goal of understanding more about the production of noise so as to be able to reduce noise generated from high-speed jets and aircraft.  These projects, in two different anechoic chambers, studied the effects on acoustics of full-scale cold jets and small-scale heated jets.  The projects looked at the flow and associated noise both close to and farther away from the nozzle exit.  The projects looked at circular and rectangular jet nozzles, with and without chevrons, and with and without plates.

Mary assisted with reaching these research goals by helping to set up and run experiments as well as running analyses on results.  One of the anechoic chambers was redone this summer, and she helped a great deal with setting it back up to be in the condition necessary to run tests, helping to rewire heating elements, and constructing a microphone array.  After the chamber became operational, Mary assisted with running tests that recorded far-field acoustic data for different nozzles with varying pressure and temperature ratios.  She also ran some experimental analysis on data primarily through Matlab, and wrote Matlab scripts to help with future analyses of results.  In addition, she worked on a design in Solidworks for a new nozzle for use in further testing.

This research program gave her a glimpse into the process and challenges of academic research and allowed her to learn more about jet noise production and methods for noise reduction.


Nathaniel Tiffany

Chemical Engineering sophomore, Nathaniel Tiffany

Nathaniel Tiffany spent the summer of 2016 working as a 2016 Protege Undergraduate researcher with Dr. Vesslin Shanov and Lu Zhang, from Nanoworld. Nathaniel's research consisted of working with Nitrogen-doped Carbon Nanotube Fiber and Ionic Liquid for High-energy Yarn supercapacitors.  Yarn-super capacitors are something that have been reported upon in many ways in previous research publications, but each publication focusses on a new aspect. This research employed a method called bi-scrolling to form a yarn super capacitor. The idea is that two Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs) threads are coated with some electrolytic material, and then the two threads are woven together. When a charge is applied to the two CNTs, they become electrodes and the electrolytes in the coating are able to separate and move toward the anode or cathode, depending on the charge of the ions. This allows the material to have a capacitance.

As with anything related to energy storage, the goal is to create something that improves upon one of several aspects of energy storage itself. The first of these is the amount of energy storage itself, or capacitance as we measured it. Capacitance is just the amount of charged stored, so more charge equates to more energy. Second, is cyclability, which simply means how many times something can be charged or discharged. Batteries, for example, have poor cyclabilty, leading to the typical statements of “my phone battery did not last beyond two years.”  The goal for the research was to continue to get closer to that end goal of creating a replacement for conventional batteries, or creating something that could work in unison with batteries, creating a device with superior energy storage and power delivery.

In the beginning of the summer, Nathaniel worked hard on developing the method that he would use to coat the threads. Through this, he established a baseline to compare all future developments to. He spent the greatest amount of time on this, as it was something that has never been done and provided the groundwork for this research to continue.


Mechanical Engineering sophomore, Maria Koenig

Mechanical Engineering sophomore, Maria Koenig

Over the summer, Maria Koenig worked with Dr. Mark Turner in the Aerospace Engineering department along with his graduate students. Her main project consisted of working with Workhorse in creating a drone for human transportation. Workhorse is a local company who has been working on creating a drone to deliver packages from their delivery trucks.

Since the project just started in full force this past summe, Mairia was responsible for designing a test stand to figure out how much thrust is given off by the propellers. Finding the amount of thrust given off by the propellers was important as it would affect how much support the arms of the drone needed. After a lot of redesign, the test stand was finally finished.

Next, she had to find parts to be ordered so that the test stand could be built. After the parts arrived, Maria then had to cut down the sheet metal in the machine shop and assemble the stand.

Overall this summer research experience was very beneficial. It provided insight into a different side of engineering, a side that Maria had never considered before.