This Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site at Texas A&M University offers research experiences on various aspects of multiscale experiments and modeling of material systems that exhibit multifunctional properties to diverse and talented cohorts of students particularly from predominantly undergraduate and minority serving institutions in Texas and the Southwest. There is extensive materials research activity in the southwestern United States, which serves exponentially growing sectors in energy, aerospace, electronics and health. Advances in materials, particularly multifunctional materials are critical to addressing the country's most challenging problems in energy and environmental sustainability. The students' research projects have meaningful and positive impacts on society by focusing on the theme of multifunctional materials which supports a large number of applications related to energy and sustainability, for which there are large job growth opportunities for participants. The research products will benefit society broadly and the project will help to recruit more students into materials science engineering, an area where an increased and more diverse workforce is urgently needed.
The REU Site offers opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in comprehensive research experiences on cutting-edge topics, using state-of-the-art methods, which reinforce and strengthen their classroom knowledge and encourage pursuit of graduate education. During the 10-week experience the students perform research activities focusing on multiscale experiments and modeling of material systems that exhibit multifunctional properties. The modeling activities include molecular dynamics to continuum scale constitutive modeling, optimization, advanced finite element-based micromechanics, and macroscopic finite element modeling of applications. The experimental activities include fabrication and characterization of shape memory alloys, fibers, and polymers, as well as design and testing of Layer-by-Layer polymer assemblies, optimized polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell systems, and nastic material systems. Students will learn how research is conducted, develop laboratory and modeling skills, and learn how to conduct design, analysis, testing and optimization of multifunctional materials and components. The students will collaborate with a faculty research mentor from the multidisciplinary Department of Materials Science and Engineering along with a trained graduate student mentor. They also will participate in a professional development program that includes training in communications and research methods skills, graduate school information sessions, and optional field trips and tours. The students are provided with opportunities to present their research results in a poster symposium held at the end of the summer and participate in an REU Students Invent Experience in collaboration with the "Aggies Invent" program - where industry partners from areas familiar to the students will present ideas, and the REU students will build a prototype in 48 hours. The program will collaborate closely with TAMU's AGEP-T program and LSAMP program as part of comprehensive recruitment plan to ensure a diverse and talented applicant pool for the REU Site.
This Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site is supported by the Department of Defense ASSURE program in partnership with the NSF REU program.