The Microscale Sensing Actuation and Imaging (MoSAIc) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at Iowa State provided eleven students with the opportunity to explore advanced imaging and diagnostic systems, and gain experience with designing and manufacturing microscale and nanoscale sensors, actuators, and smart materials.
In order to help students build an understanding of how materials interact, MoSAIc projects ranged from examining the microscale details of burning aluminum to discovering how small surface sensors aid 4D imaging. Participants used precise methods and powerful equipment to obtain findings. This kind of work has the potential to be used in making new devices and materials and is often applied to chemical and biological research projects.
Gabe Davis, an electrical engineering student from Savannah State University, had the chance to work with high-intensity focused ultrasound. Each evening, Davis mixed samples before leaving them to solidify for eight hours. The next morning, he used a soft-tissue ultrasound to measure the cavitation volume of each sample. His research contributed to a larger project that aims to determine the impact different tissue factors have on the volume of ultrasound results.
Davis attended MoSAIc at the recommendation of a professor at his university, and his mentor during the event was an electrical engineer with many related academic interests. “The experience was a good reinforcement for me that I am in a field I enjoy,” says Davis.
Leah Merner, mechanical engineering student at Iowa State, originally became interested in MoSAIc as a way to reconnect with engineering after a year of studying abroad in Italy. The chance to put her education to the test and gain work experience as an undergraduate drew her to the opportunity.
“Eventually, school is going to end, and knowing how your field applies to real life is going to be important,” says Merner. “I’m interested in research and development, so I thought MoSAIc would give me great insight into research.”
Merner’s work took her outside her comfort zone and into a research lab specializing in 3D imaging. She worked with shape measurement systems, improving the accuracy of transferring 2D images into 3D.
“The more I looked into the program, the more I realized computer work seems to be a good supplement to mechanical engineering,” says Merner. “I think the more I know about electrical engineering and emerging technologies, the more of an advantage I will have in the professional world.”
Merner continues, “This experience has helped me discover certain types of research I’m not as interested in doing. However, I have learned so much that will be beneficial to me, and this has been such a great opportunity that I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.”