Grady Bentzel (Materials Engineering) has always been interested in the properties of materials and nanotechnology and as a STAR Scholar completed a project under the tutelage of Professor Yuri Gogotsi. Now, two years later, Grady is working with another Honors student, Elizabeth Plowman (Electrical Engineering) and a fashion design team in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design to create innovative, wearable clothing—“smart garments” that incorporate cutting edge technology.
In Grady and Elizabeth’s research, the goal is to seamlessly fuse visual and audio technology with textiles to create aesthetically pleasing wearable technology. The A.J. Drexel Nanotechnology Institute and Nano Photonics group, in collaboration with the Drexel University Fashion Design Program are working to develop flexible and robust technologies that can withstand daily human physical movement, transforming apparel into an interactive human-technology interface. The NanoPhotonics group (Elizabeth Plowman advised by Professor Adam Fontecchio) is developing the display technology utilizing innovative inkjet printing techniques. The Drexel nanotechnology Institute (Grady Bentzel advised by Professor Yuri Gogotsi) is exploring the advanced supercapacitor technology required to supply the system with sufficient power. All circuitry and microprocessors required to support the system will also be imbedded in the textiles. The Fashion Design Program effort led by Professor Genevieve Dion is working to design a suitable dress that will house the new technology and support the use of it both aesthetically and practically. Finally, all groups are working together to explore industry available options for the audio technology.
The ALMA project, currently under development in the high desert of Chile's Atacama region, intends to revolutionize how scientists study and collect data from deep space by establishing one of the most powerful radio telescope arrays in history. With the help of students from Drexel University's LeBow College, researchers from the ALMA project are hoping to make discoveries not only in the way that humankind understands the universe, but also—in a very practical and prosaic sense - in the way remote scientific outposts are designed. By the time ALMA goes live sometime early in the next decade, they hope that their site - and not just their science - will be at the cutting edge of the 21st century.
An international project administered under the auspices of the National Radio Astronomy Organization (NRAO), ALMA has brought together scientists from Europe,East Asia, North America, and Chile to construct and administer what will be among the most powerful telescopes ever built. With 66 high-precision antennas working together at millimeter and submillimeter radio wavelengths, the ALMA project-known as the "Telescope Project" on campus - will allow scientists all over the world to detect molecules in space via radio frequencies, "at frequencies we've never seen before," says Jeff Kern of the NRAO. "It [will be] like someone suddenly gave you a pair of glasses that make your eyes work better than anything you’ve ever seen before."
After a series of e-mail exchanges and teleconferences, culminating with a visit by Dr. Prestage, head of the Department of Technical Services at the ALMA Observatory, to Drexel's campus this past summer, the pair decided that ALMA's energy project was a fitting research opportunity.
The team, headed by LeBow professors Dr. Hande Benson, associate professor of decision sciences, and Neil Desnoyers, clinical assistant professor in decision sciences, includes three undergraduates, Adam Marsh (LeBow, '11) and Isaac Babik (LeBow, '13), both business and engineering majors, and Alfred Uzokwe, Jr. (LeBow, '13), a mechanical engineering major. The group took its first trip to the Atacama site earlier this fall.
“The trip was really going to be just for us to go and get acquainted with everything,” Babik says. “We're going to try to give suggestions through our research, see if we can come up with interesting concepts.”
Through their research, the team hopes to help ALMA reduce its carbon footprint and shore up its energy resources for both the antenna array and the Operations Site Facility, which will house the permanent staff, offices, and visiting academics. Because the site is so remote—the closest town is still several hours' drive away—it is and will remain “off the grid,” and dependent on generating its own power.
In addition to helping the site locate alternate energy opportunities, the team is looking closely at how the permanent facilities can integrate environmentally friendly concepts from the earliest stages of their construction.
"We want to help make the residences as energy efficient as possible," Babik says, "seeing what's feasible, how much it would cost to do this and that."
The Drexel team is in the process of spending six months attempting to synthesize the information it has gathered in Atacama at its offices in Philadelphia's Naval Yard, culminating in a return trip to Chile in March of 2010, where they hope to present their findings to a combined group of ALMA team members and Drexel students at a forum in ALMA's Santiago offices.
"The observatory—because it's a large project, and extremely high profile-has been approached over the last few years by organizations and companies that wanted to do this kind of analysis for them," Desnoyers says, "but [ALMA] turned them all down,because they would not have provided an independent analysis. We want to provide that independent analysis, and not have it skewed towards any one particular technology."
Desnoyers thinks that this kind of research opportunity is invaluable for students and faculty members alike.
"This is a great opportunity for students because it's working on an innovative technology, it's international exposure...it builds on a few of Drexel's strengths - its BusinessCollege,College of Engineering, and its focus on bringing in new technology."
Babik, for his part, is thrilled to be taking part in such a unique project for his first co-op opportunity.
"I'm really excited about working on the project. The chance for an undergrad to work on a project like this is pretty rare, especially since I'm only in my sophomore year."
Everyone involved seems to agree that while the ALMA project is, in someways, not all that different from taking advantage of Drexel's varied co-ops across a variety of fields, the opportunity to be a small part of such a massive scientific undertaking has added extra excitement to the process. "There are always sustainability issues," Babik says, “but this is exciting because it's so revolutionary.”
The A.J. Drexel Institute for Applied Communications and Information Networking (ACIN) has a pretty straightforward mission. The Drexel faculty at the institute, and partners such as the Defense Information Systems Agency work to improve communication systems for men and women serving in the military, homeland security and police, fire and emergency rescue fields.
"While the mission is simple, the research at ACIN is complex, involving the computer science, engineering and information technology areas at the University," says Dr. William Regli, the Institute's Director. ACIN includes more than 150 scientists and engineers, over 60 students and dozens of faculty, staff and business people at Drexel.
ACIN was established in 2008 as an outgrowth of work Drexel has been doing for the US Army since 2001. It joins the A.J. Drexel Nanotechnology Institute and the A.J. Drexel Plasma Institute as inter - nationally recognized areas of interdisciplinary, muse-inspired research excellence at Drexel.
"ACIN is a multi-disciplinary effort across many units at Drexel," says Dr. Regli. "We have a very talented team group working on many problems of importance to our national well-being and defense." The work by the ACIN team focuses on network centric systems with applications for national security, defense and public protection. Research directions include software defined radio, advanced antennas and software systems for control and management of next generation radio systems, and intelligent software systems that focus on command and control.
"Developing tools and testbeds, engineering methods and scientific understanding of the problems in network-centric systems design is critical and essential in a vast array of emerging problem areas of global importance," Dr. Regli explains. Providing soldiers with critical access to data in the battlefield can involve rapid expansion of high-speed data networks. ACIN scientists are testing a WiMax based "last mile," where the actual connection occurs to soldiers on the ground. WiMax technology provides wireless transmission of data using a variety of transmission modes. WiMax has bandwidth speeds which are four to six times faster that standard 3G service.
ACIN is testing a network architecture that uses a hybrid of standards-based satellite communications and wireless technologies. The technologies deliver robust, lightweight and commercially available applications. ACIN has participated in integration experiments for the WiMax network at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois and at Suffolk Air Station in Virginia.
In March 2009, ACIN conducted the first major urban trial for WiMax technologies in Philadelphia. A WiMax transmitter was operated from Van Rensellaer Hall and propagation and application performance were measured in various regions throughout the city to assess its effectiveness in different terrains.
"The WiMax project is a good example of an initiative that has both military and commercial applications," Dr. Regli explains.
Working with Lockheed, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and other prime contractors, ACIN faculty and students, led by Drs. Moshe Kam and Kapil Dandekar, helped develop a system for modeling, assessing and planning stationary and on-the-move spectrum use. The system gives soldiers the ability to rapidly predict conflicts and optimize spectrum use for mission success. The system has already been deployed to Iraq.
ACIN scientists are also studying agent-based "situation awareness." In a role unique for a university laboratory, ACIN is the lead system integrator on a project that aims to develop a secured, integrated suite of technologies that enables strategic and tactical battlefield information sharing. The work involves cross-domain security and battle command planning tracking enhancements. ACIN is working with nearly 20 contractors to develop a common user interface.
The reach of ACIN goes beyond military applications. ACIN is the home to the National Institute of Justice's Communications Technology Center of Excellence, which currently works with police and fire departments and other public protectors across the country to study radio interoperability and position location technologies and get them deployed by our public servants. ACIN General Manager, Mr. Ed Celiano, manages relationships between ACIN participants and dozens of government agencies and partners. Mr. Lou Bucelli, ACIN Entrepreneur-in- Residence, has brought over 65 companies into the ACIN Center, resulting in hundreds of new high-tech jobs in Camden, N.J.
ACIN's view is that network-centric systems are at the heart of several global challenges. Scientists engaged in climate modeling often look to advanced sensor networks to monitor movement of glaciers or micro-climates in jungles. Energy-efficient buildings are often conceived of as large sensor networks, adapting in real-time to the internal activities of human tenants as well as external stimuli ranging from weather to seismic activity to manage energy load, to improve utilization, safety and security.
"We will continue to explore ways to enhance communication for those on the front line," Dr. Regli says.
At Drexel, we're committed to providing truly unique and exciting research opportunities for undergraduate students. The research may involve a single student and mentor or a student and a team that includes other undergraduates as well as graduate students and faculty. Research projects are available across almost all disciplines of science, humanities, and the arts. Read more about recent and ongoing projects focused on cyber crime, operational challenges in Chile and military communications.
Drexel University researchers and faculty are leaders in a variety of fields - from nanotechnology to digital media - that touch our daily lives and shape our future. As an undergraduate, you can become a part of this exciting community of discovery, creativity, and innovation. By addressing real-world issues and challenges early on in your education, and exploring the creative opportunities available to you, you will find that working closely with our superb faculty increases the intellectual and academic rewards available to you exponentially.
In general, all full-time undergraduate students with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5 are eligible to participate in undergraduate research. Students on co-op may participate in undergraduate research or creative activity with the permission of the research faculty involved and that of their co-op employer. In all cases, the principal investigator or faculty member has complete control over selection of candidates including the number and qualifications of the students working with him or her.
To get started, use the Sign In box on the top right to log in to the portal. Once inside, you will find listings of all available research opportunities at the University for undergraduates. Once you've found opportunities that interest you, apply for those positions and you will be well on your way. Additionally, you may wish to explore opportunities outside of the Discover system (like you would with an independent search during the co-op process) by speaking with your academic department or contacting the STAR program.