Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Department of Mechanical Engineering

Undergraduate research

Q  I am interested in working on a research project as an undergraduate MechE student. How do I go about finding available research projects?

A  Get to know the sort of research done within the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering. Talk to your faculty instructors; talk to more senior students; talk to students involved in the student chapters of the professional societies (ASME, SWE, etc.) Read the websites of each faculty member and see what sort of research is done in various labs.

Q  When is the best time to be involved in research as an undergraduate student?

A  To be productive in research, an undergraduate student must have accumulated enough technical knowledge through coursework, and must have available time to work on research in addition to academic responsibilities and social obligations. After completing the freshman year, many students can be involved with research. By the time they graduate, all students will have worked on several research projects through hands-on lab and design courses, or through research projects managed by faculty.

Q  Can I get school credit for research?

A  A student working on a research project can get school credit by taking one of the 39X-level of courses (Independent Study Courses) and by identifying a faculty member to serve as research monitor. Credit ranges from 1 to 4, depending on the research required. On the other hand, a student may get a research assistant's salary. You cannot get both credit and salary for work on a research project.

Q  How many hours does an undergraduate student devote to research?

A  The answer depends on when the research is done. For students working on research during the summer, expect to work full-time, typically 40-50 hours per week. During the school year, expect anywhere from 10-20 hours per week, depending on your course schedule, extracurricular commitments and interests, etc.

Q  Do undergraduate students become authors of published papers in which research is published?

A  Yes, absolutely. Papers are published in the proceedings of various conferences of large national societies, or in archival journals. If an undergraduate is involved in the research and has contributed in that project, the student's name is included as one of the co-authors.

Q  What are some possible research projects in the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering?

A   The faculty in the Department work on research in two broad areas of mechanical engineering: 1) Energy and power and 2) mechanics, materials, and design.

Q   Can you give me specific examples of research projects in the Department?

A   At right are some representative examples of undergraduate research projects from the last several years, listing the students involved and the faculty mentors. There are many more examples.

research projects

Determination of effective masses and parametric study of the organ of Corti.
Student: Kalai Tsang. 2013.
Research mentors: Prof. Jong-Hoon Nam and Prof. Sheryl Gracewski.




Parameter study of multiple degrees of freedom in modeling the mammalian cochlea.
Student: John Cormack. 2013.
Research mentors: Prof. Jong-Hoon Nam and Prof. Sheryl Gracewski.


Effects of bondhardness and diamond concentration on the erosion of diamond tool materials.
Students: Chris Roll and Brian MacMillin. 2011-12
Research mentor: Prof. Paul Funkenbusch


roll photo

Effect of Chemical and Mechanical Factors on Bond Shear Strength in Resin Dentures.
Students: Evan Bean, Brian Castro, Steve Trambert. 2012.
Research mentor: Prof. Paul Funkenbusch

bean machine


Quality testing of diamond-abrasive, metal-bond grinding tool materials. 2012.
Research mentor: Prof. Paul Funkenbusch

grinding graph

grinding photo

Design of an automated device to measure subsurface damage in the range 5-100 µm in ground and finished glass surfaces.
Students: Meghan Neff, Sam Marchetti, Greg McKiernan. Spring 2013.
Research mentor: Prof. John Lambropoulos

neff device

Fracture of thin glass edges, and Weibull strength statistical distributions at slow and fast loading rates under four-point bending conditions.
Student: Koji Muto. Summer 2013.
Research mentor: Prof. John Lambropoulos

muto graph

muto photo