Celebrating student research at Lehigh University

3:12 p.m.: Research by Lafayette College senior Nahin Ferdousi, a chemical engineering major, examines the gasses emitted by’ 3-D printers and how they impact health and indoor air quality.

“During the 3-D printing process, there’s a transition from hot to cold air, and semi-volatile compounds are emitted,” Ferdousi says. “They condense and latch on to each other, becoming ‘sticky’ particles. And when you breathe them in, they can latch onto your respiratory system.”

Although 3-D printers have become increasingly popular, this is an area that hasn’t been studied much, she says. Ferdousi’s research involved putting 3-D printers in a gas chamber and tracking the phenomenon to model it and prove that the interaction happens.

“This is the first step in a longer series of projects,” she says. “We only used one type of material, PLA [polylactic acid], so then the next step is to use another type of material and see how emissions from different polymer filaments interact with each other. And then we’ll want to break down the components and see what the chemicals are. If we know what the chemicals are, we know what we’re breathing in and we know how to remediate the situation.”

Ferdousi continues: “3-D printers are everywhere now. They’re in industry, they are in classrooms, they are in homes. We need to understand the hazards around 3-D printing all together. It’s important for people who are vulnerable, people with asthma, the elderly, infants. If you have a 3-D printer in that kind of setting, you want to know what’s happening.”

Daniel Min '20 and Garfield Jin ’202:34 p.m.: Research conducted by Daniel Min '20 (right) and Garfield Jin ’20 (left) applied engineering to the business sector. Their research aims to predict when stocks will drop using an artificial neural network.

The two industrial and systems engineering undergraduates created a neural network in the programming language python and used data from Bloomberg Terminal to predict when stocks will drop.

The input of the model is the price of the stocks and the output is zero, meaning no drop,  or one, meaning a drop. After their model runs, they compare the network’s prediction to the actual classification by Bloomberg.

“Artificial Intelligence is hot right now, and also deep learning just makes life easier because you don't have to look at years of data,” Min said.

In addition to testing the model on historical stock data, the duo is using a trade simulation API that runs in the cloud in real time so that they can see how their model performs on current data. Jin, who hopes to pursue a career in financial engineering, said this research helps her understand more about the combination of engineering and business. —Madison Hoff ’19

1:50 p.m.: “Most countries are moving to renewable energy because its clean energy and its more sustainable, but it creates a lot of fluctuations in the grid and it really makes the grid system volatile,” says electrical engineering major Jasper Chumba ’19. “We want to increase the amount of renewable energy we put into the system, but we want to make the grid system safe at the same time.

Research by Chumba (photo, right), Evelyn Sun ’19 (left, electrical engineering), and Dawon Jeong ’19 (center, computer engineering) looks to develop a test scheme, using machine learning, to detect power attacks disguised as renewable energy.

“Renewable generation opens up an avenue to exploit,” says Jeong. “What an attacker will do is try to imitate what renewable generation is doing. We’re using a model that will take the seasonality of wind, solar, water power into account and from there we will model our own random attack and see if our prediction will catch that attack.”

Kiana Nieves11:47 a.m.: Research by Kiana Nieves ’19, a civil engineering student, examines the costs and benefits of transitioning from a prescriptive fire-resistant design in building construction to a newer performance-based approach.

“The goal is to engineer and design the fire protection rather than use the prescriptive approach,” which states a minimum level of resistance to which the building must be constructed, based on the construction type, Nieves explains. In performance-based design, or structural fire engineering, an engineer has a more central role.
Nieves looked at time, construction, and costs of structural fire engineering. She analyzed a sample building, mainly the many filler floor beams found in a single building, and calculated the total volume of fire protection. She compared the costs of passive fire-protection, spray-applied fireproofing on members, to the costs of active fire-protection, like a sprinkler. 
The goal is to make sure there is still enough time to get people out of the building safely.
Her results showed if passive fire protection was cut by half, there would still be about a two-hour reading of the building standing up, which Nieves says is a positive and demonstrates how it is possible to cut costs and labor, possibly by reducing the amount of fire protection on the filler beams, or secondary framing members. —Madison Hoff ’19

11:05 a.m.: “Everyone is excited and hyped up to present their research—and they’re really taking ownership of what they’ve been working on,” says Lesley Chow (photo, center), an assistant professor of bioengineering and materials science and engineering at the Rossin College. “These students were hand-selected and should be proud to represent their department and college,” says Chow, who has two students presenting in today’s symposium. “It’s always good to have some friendly competition with Lafayette beyond the football field!” 

Engineering student research once again takes center stage today as Lehigh celebrates its 16th year of the David and Lorraine Freed Undergraduate Research Symposium.

The event, now in its 16th year, brings together students from Lehigh University and Lafayette College to showcase undergraduate research achievement, celebrate experiential learning, and encourage students to use research to enrich their educational experiences.

The symposium provides an opportunity for undergraduates to share work from a broad spectrum of engineering disciplines; this year, individuals and teams will present on topics including 3D anti-tumor drug screening and power grid cyberattack prevention.

Students will present their research before a panel of judges, who will pose follow-up questions. The presenters will interact with faculty, students, visitors, and staff attending the event throughout the day.

Winners selected by the judging panel will receive scholarships to attend professional conferences. Symposium attendees are encouraged to participate in the event by casting a vote for the People’s Choice Award.

The symposium is endowed by Andrew D. Freed ’83 in honor of his parents. Now retired, Freed most recently served as CEO of Micro-Coax, a manufacturer of electronic transmission devices based in Pottstown, PA. Freed holds a bachelor's degree in metallurgy and materials engineering from Lehigh and a master's degree in industrial administration from Carnegie Mellon University.

The event runs today in the main lobby of the STEPS building from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., followed by the awards ceremony. Visit the Undergraduate Research Symposium website for additional event details and to read more about this year's competitors.

Lehigh student Nicole Malofsky presents her research, "Developing Functionalized Bioresorbable Membranes Using Natural and Synthetic Polymer Blends."

Annie Behre, 2019 UGRS @ Lehigh

Lehigh student Annie Behre presents her research, "Simultaneous and Independent Control of Biochemical and Physical Properties in 3D-printed Biomaterials."