The National Science Foundation has awarded a $405,208 grant to Oklahoma State University-Tulsa to launch a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site program for undergraduate college students interested in materials science and engineering and entrepreneurship. The grant is co-funded by the U.S. Department of Defense Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
Ten students will be selected to participate in cutting-edge research projects in materials science, aerospace, energy and biomaterials engineering and how entrepreneurship is related to these exciting and new fields. The grant provides funding to pay a stipend to participants in the nine-week summer program at OSU-Tulsa’s Helmerich Research Center.
“The National Science Foundation grant will provide a unique opportunity for undergraduate college students to participate in the type of cutting-edge research typically reserved for graduate students,” said Howard Barnett, president of OSU-Tulsa. “This program is a great example of how faculty at the Helmerich Research Center are advancing engineering training for Tulsa.”
The interdisciplinary summer research program is coordinated by Dr. Ranji Vaidyanathan, Varnadow professor of materials science and engineering, and Dr. Pankaj Sarin, assistant professor of materials science and engineering. Mentors for the program include OSU School of Materials Science and Engineering faculty Drs. Do Young Kim, Jim Smay, Vaidyanathan, Sarin, Raj Singh, Nirmal Govindaraju and affiliated faculty in the OSU College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology, including Drs. Raman Singh, Jay Hanan and Khaled Sallam. Dr. Craig Watters from the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship and the Spears School of Business is also one of the mentors.
Participants will conduct hands-on research in materials processing, testing and characterization, learn about materials characterization methods and develop an understanding of how research goes from the laboratory to commercialization. They will also learn about advanced materials characterization techniques through a two-day workshop organized by the Frederick Seitz Materials Laboratory at the University of Illinois Urbana Champagne through a distance learning mechanism.
“It is imperative to groom undergraduate engineering students with a background in research to prepare them for the advanced technological leadership positions in our industry,” said Vaidyanathan. “This experience will encourage more students to pursue materials research-based careers and become entrepreneurial leaders at young age.”
Students will also learn about entrepreneurial activities resulting from new materials discoveries from the OSU Spears School of Business Riata Center of Entrepreneurship and have opportunities to interact with local industry partners engaged in materials science research, including American Airlines, John Zink, Element Technologies and Infinite Composites Technologies. In addition, participants learn about graduate programs and careers in materials science and engineering.
The program will be open to undergraduate college students from across the nation, with an emphasis on recruiting underrepresented minority students and engineering students from Tulsa Community College.