St. Margaret’s High School Students Enjoy University-level Engineering Research Experience

Six students who participated in this year’s St. Margaret’s Episcopal High School Summer Internship Program at The Henry Samueli School of Engineering presented their research projects in early November to their parents, teachers and the engineering faculty and graduate students who mentored them. The event was held in Engineering Hall and hosted by Samueli School Dean Gregory Washington.

Now in its eighth year, the internship program matches high school students, based on their interests, with a faculty member and research area. Initiated by Engineering Leadership Council Member Stacey Nicholas who has an interest and passion in increasing the number of students entering science and engineering fields, the program accepts five to 10 students each summer.  Admission is competitive and based on students’ GPA and academic merits. Students receive university credit, which they can add to their college applications.

This year, seven students produced six projects.

Brandon Miura worked with John C. LaRue, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, in the UC Irvine Wind Tunnel Lab, where he learned about the basics of eddies and how fluids move around objects.

Victoria Lee was paired with Farzin Zareian, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. Lee worked in the Performance Based Earthquake Lab, discovering how to model a tall-rise building with a beam and then testing it with earthquake ground motions.

Narumi Takagi was assigned to The National Fuel Cell Research Center with its director G. Scott Samuelsen, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. She learned about advanced solar panels and the kind of data that can be collected and analyzed from the panels.

Alexandra Rodriguez-Oscar and Melisa Osborne worked in the iMove Lab with David Reinkensmeyer, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and biomedical engineering. The two students worked on engaging forms of rehabilitation for spinal injury and stroke patients, while maintaining measureable methods of rehabilitation.

Emily Venable worked with Regina Ragan, associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science.  Experimenting with template stripping and diffusion bonding, Emily attempted to create an atomically flat metal surface which could be used to impose a lipic bilayer to study protein function.

Samuel Rubenacker worked with Daniel Mumm, associate professor of chemical engineering and materials science, on a project that examined what happens to turbines when using jet fuel versus 50 percent biofuel.  He sectioned and cleaned the small pins that were used to simulate the turbines and prepared them for inspection under an electron microscope.

“It was wonderful having the students in the lab,” said Reinkensmeyer. “They’re bright and inquisitive. It was a great opportunity to interact with them and help young minds develop.”

The students all expressed their appreciation and excitement about the chance to work on real engineering research. “I had to use a lot of fancy math equations; my calculus came in handy,” says Lee. “I found it really empowering that this type of research can affect the way we build certain buildings.”