Materials Science and Engineering receives REU grant from National Science Foundation

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University has received the Research for Undergraduates (REU) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Over a period of three years, the $365,000 grant will enable the department to offer research experiences in multiscale experiments and modeling of material systems to 10 undergraduate students enrolled in universities across Texas.

Dr. Terry Creasy, associate professor in materials science and engineering, and Dr. Ibrahim Karaman, materials science and engineering head and Chevron Professor I, collaborated with Dr. Dimitris Lagoudas, University Distinguished Professor and senior associate dean for research, on Texas A&M’s program titled, “REU Site: Multifunctional Materials.”

The program is jointly funded by the Department of Defense’s Awards to Stimulate and Support Undergraduate Research Experience (ASSURE) Program in partnership with the NSF REU program.

“The materials science and engineering program has a long history of incorporating undergraduate research, both through previous REU programs, and through involvement in individual PI labs,” said Dr. Patrick Shamberger, assistant professor and undergraduate degree program director in the materials science and engineering department. “This grant enables our department to scale up support for these activities, and in the process, develop a strong cadre of undergraduate researchers, many of which we hope will chose to continue their graduate research here in this department.”

 Texas A&M’s program offers opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in materials science research early in their undergraduate careers despite having no access to materials science as a major in their home institutions. It also promotes success of more senior students, particularly underrepresented minority students who have already developed an interest in materials science, but would benefit from a research experience.

“Undergraduate research is a phenomenal opportunity for students to integrate course material that they learn in the classroom with the practical process of materials discovery and engineering,” said Shamberger. “It is also an ideal chance for students to discover the research process itself, and plays a key role in many students’ decisions to follow the path of graduate studies.”

During the 10-week program, students will get hands-on experience in various materials synthesis and characterization techniques, different types of multifunctional materials, and materials modeling methods such as molecular dynamics to continuum scale constitutive modeling, optimization, advanced finite element-based micro-mechanics, and macroscopic finite element modeling. They will learn how research is conducted, develop experimentation and modeling skills, and learn how to conduct property characterization, analysis, testing and optimization of multifunctional materials and components. The students will be mentored by materials science and engineering faculty and a trained graduate student.

At the end of the program, students will present their research results in a poster symposium and participate in an REU Students Invent Experience in collaboration with the Aggies Invent program.