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Lehigh bioengineering student Carolyn Scott '10 discusses her research with the judging panel.

2010 David and Lorraine Freed Undergraduate Research Symposium shows diverse talents of young Lehigh Engineers

As Lehigh University and Lafayette College students, their research posters, and throngs of campus community members lined the lobby of Packard Laboratory during the 2010 David and Lorraine Freed Undergraduate Research Symposium, one thing was clear: the storied rivalry between the two schools has found a new outlet.

Each spring, the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science hosts the symposium to provide contestants -– top undergraduate researchers from across Lehigh's engineering majors -- with an opportunity to showcase their research and network with peers, faculty, and representatives of industry. And for the past two years, the event has been opened up to top students of Lafayette's engineering programs.

The idea behind the event is a simple one: help students develop the ability to effectively relay their ideas to a diverse audience – a skill crucial to success in any field, especially one related to science and engineering. The fifth annual event of its kind, the event was created by, and is still coordinated by, Professors Wojtek Misiolek and Himanshu Jain of materials science and engineering.

With the aid of faculty advisors, students develop and display posters that describe their research. The presentations are judged by a panel of academic and industry researchers for creativity, significance to an engineering problem, visual quality of the poster, and ability of the student to defend the research.

This year's panel of judges were a prestigious group. Dr. Charles Entrekin is a triple degree Lehigh grad in materials science, and a seasoned executive in the metals industry. Mr. Paul Bosco '80 graduated from Lehigh with a degree in electrical engineering, and is currently vice president and general manager with Cisco's operations in New England. Mr Philip Fleck '67, a mechanical engineer by training, is director of venture capital firm Norwich Ventures, Inc. Douglas M. Mace, president of Mace Consulting Engineers, also served as judge.

The top three students won travel stipends to attend professional conferences in their field of study. What's more, this year's event marked the first time that visitors were able to vote to select the winner of the "People's Choice Award," which was presented along with a $100 Barnes & Noble gift certificate.

First prize went to Lehigh student Carolyn Scott '10. A student within Lehigh's Bioengineering program, she presented a year's worth of research through her project "Directed Differentiation of Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells Using Rationally Designed Solid State Peptide Materials." Next year, Scott is attending graduate school at the University of Minnesota, and has been training a first-year student to take over her research. For Scott, being able to relate her research to her trainee and at the Symposium was good experience for future research conventions and presentations in graduate school.

"It's easy to forget what's common knowledge when working in a lab with other people who understand what you're doing," said Scott.

Adam Kohn '11, a materials science student advised by Prof. Ray Pearson, walked away with the People's Choice Award for his presentation on "Rheological Behavior of Nanosilica Filled Epoxies."

Matthew Mattern, a development officer with the Office of Advancement, had a chance to talk to Jordan Warnke'10 and Carlos Gutierrez from Lafayette's Class of 2010. "Both students presented very sophisticated work and were able to describe it very clearly in layman's terms," said Mattern.

Warnke, a civil engineering major, thought the Symposium provided a forum for him to apply his schooling in a real-world situation.

"Just participating in the Symposium shows initiative as an undergraduate researcher – to be able to sit down and do the research, and then to devise a way to communicate and express your ideas," said Warnke. "It demonstrates to others your maturity in the field."

Gutierrez, a Lafayette senior with a major in chemical engineering, felt that the Symposium was good practice for graduate school, and a fun and exciting way to talk about what he had been working on for the last nine months.

"This [Symposium] was a good experience for presenting the kind of work I have been doing. Getting the research done and getting it out there shows people what you're doing and builds support in your research area" he said.

Award winners were as follows:

1st Place
Carolyn Scott, Lehigh (Bioengineering)
Directed Differentiation of Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells Using Rationally Designed Solid State Peptide Materials
Advisor: Sabrina Jedlicka

2nd Place
Michael DiRosato, Daniel Faro, Casey Parker, Lehigh (Chemical Engineering)
Characterization of Adsorption Processes in High-Temperature CO2 Sorbents
Advisors: Mark Snyder, Hugo Caram

3rd Place
Alexander Wendt, Lehigh (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Above Threshold Analysis of Quasi Guided Optical Waveguide VCSELs
Advisor: Nelson Tansu

Honorable mention
Carlos Gutierrez, Lafayette (Chemical Engineering)
Modeling Fluid Dynamics and Material Properties in 3-Dimensional Flow-through Bioreactors by CFD

Adam Kohn, Lehigh (Materials Science and Engineering)
Rheological Behavior of Nanosilica Filled Epoxies
Advisor: Raymond Pearson

Whitney Levine, Eric Wasserman, Lehigh (Computer Science and Engineering)
Abnormality Detection in Medical Images
Advisor: Xiaolei Huang

For more information, please visit the David and Lorraine Freed Undergraduate Research Symposium Web site.

Megan Stoner is a Lehigh journalism student working as a writing intern for the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Story by Megan Stoner

Posted on Friday, April 23, 2010

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