In an April poster session, six College of Engineering sophomores presented their research on how to build stronger bridges, enhance cybersecurity in radio communications, and improve human beings’ quality of life. The students were part of the Research, Engineering, Advocacy and Leadership (REAL) Work program, part of the ENGineering Access, Greater Equity, and Diversity initiative, or ENGAGED program. The program matches students up with research groups conducting work they are most interested in.
“We want to help students develop a sense of engineering identity in order to encourage them to persist in the engineering disciplines,” said ENGAGED director Noel Hennessey.
Mechanical engineering major Patrick Pinder-Newton, originally from the Bahamas, is working to improve a robotic gait simulator, which researchers can use to study how different movements and weights affect human feet.
“I think it’s valuable for an engineer to know how to do research and understand how it works,” he said. “I would definitely recommend the REAL Work program to other students. I honestly wouldn’t be in engineering if I hadn’t done it. It gives you an experience that you really wouldn’t get while you’re in college. Everything and everyone in REAL Work kind of helps you through the process.”
Software engineering student Glenn Sears also conducted research with AME assistant professor Kyle Hanquist during his first year of college. Sears is researching convolutional neural networks, a subset of machine learning.
Sears said he knew he had an interest in cybersecurity, but his time in REAL Work helped him narrow his focus and prepare him for what comes after undergrad.
“Doing research gets me some practical applications in the field,” he said. “I can go out to jobs and say, ‘Hey, this is what I’ve done.’ It can also be useful if I decide I’m interested in going down the graduate school route.”