By Margaret Turner
ECU College of Engineering and Technology
Undergraduate students from East Carolina University and more than 10 other universities spent the summer learning about research practices in the College of Engineering and Technology.
The ECU departments of computer science and engineering each hosted a 10-week Research Experience for Undergraduates, or REU, which ended Aug. 1. The programs were funded by grants offered through the National Science Foundation.
Eleven students participated in the computer science REU titled “Software Testing: Foundations, Applications, and Tools.” Students selected their own research topics, which included developing and testing a neural network-based spam-detection system, collecting and analyzing data from a social network system, building a dynamic program analysis prototype and testing mobile computing systems.
Students also attended seminars with guest speakers such as ECU computer science associate professor Dr. Ronnie Smith, who discussed frontiers in artificial intelligence, Dr. Mary Farwell, interim assistant vice chancellor and director of undergraduate research, who offered advice on undergraduate research, and Dr. Ernest Marshburn, director of research development, who provided information on graduate fellowship programs. Students took field trips to the Brody School of Medicine’s robotics research and training center and the biomedical laser lab in the physics department.
Delaney Rhodes, a rising senior at Georgia College in Milledgeville, Georgia, said she and Kevin Kulp, also from Georgia College, heard about the program from a former REU student who attended last year’s summer program at ECU. “I feel more prepared for graduate school,” said Kulp, who plans to pursue a graduate degree after graduation in May. Rhodes and Kulp said they enjoyed meeting other students and being on a large campus.
Engineering hosted eight students from seven different universities, including two ECU students for the REU titled “Biomedical Engineering in Simulation, Imaging, and Modeling.” Dr. Stephanie George, ECU assistant professor of engineering, and Dr. Zac Domire, ECU associate professor of kinesiology, collaborated on the NSF grant to fund the program.
Student research projects included testing viscosity and velocity related to nanofiber production, developing predictors of bone geometry in physically active populations and exploring modeling and simulation in biomedical applications.
“The goal of the REU program is to provide experiences that students may not have at their home institutions, to increase their interest and knowledge in graduate school, while also promoting diversity at this level,” George said. “Student summer research experiences will help to create a competitive graduate school application.”
The department of engineering was recently approved to offer its first graduate degree program, a master’s in biomedical engineering, beginning this fall.
Participants were treated to an ice cream social and attended several lunch seminars where topics included how to apply to graduate school, what to expect at a research conference and how to compose a scientific poster.