APEX-E program expands to include hands-on research experience

A new research opportunity for incoming Iowa State engineering students allows them to experience the life of a Cyclone Engineer before their first semester on campus even begins.

APEXE, or the Academic Program for EXcellence for Engineers, is “designed to increase the success rate of incoming multicultural, first-year engineering students.” APEXE is a component of the university-wide Academic Program for EXcellence (APEX) and is a collaboration between the College of Engineering and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

APEXE  launched in the College of Engineering in 2013, and this summer it expanded to include a new hands-on research experience in real-world applications of engineering.

One particular research effort saw two students, Yahan Chang and Andres Garro, joining the research team of Peng Wei, an assistant professor of aerospace engineering. The research explored designing and building UAVs as part of Wei’s research in developing algorithms for autonomous flight.

Andres Garro, left, and Yahan Chang, right, pose with examples of the UAVs that Peng Wei, center, is designing as part of his research in developing algorithms for autonomous flight.

APEXE scholars worked for 15 hours a week in the lab, developing critical skills that will help them excel in their engineering studies. In addition, scholars took Iowa State summer courses, participated in departmental hands-on workshops, visited industry and engaged with engineering alumni, and gained access to various university resources to aid in their retention and success as incoming students.

“This real research experience gave me a real head start for learning some concepts that I wouldn’t usually learn until later aero classes,” said Chang. “I was able to see how complex and exciting this work can be.”

“I learned a lot about how research takes a whole team and got experience with how to interact with research mentors and teammates,” said Garro. “Getting a chance to do research really showed me how engineering concepts are applied in a lab.”

“The growth of APEXE to include a research experience is a unique new way to give scholars a peek at the experiences they will have here in the College of Engineering. From networking with faculty members to meeting fellow students to contributing to innovative research projects, the APEXE research experience is a great addition to an already outstanding APEX program,” said LeQuetia Ancar, assistant director of engineering student services and coordinator of APEXE.

Participants in this year’s APEXE program are:

  • Joyce Lai
  • Yahan Chang
  • Andres Garro
  • Kundan Paudyal
  • Xavier Robles
  • Jesse Gallegos
  • Yusuf Shehata
  • Liam Herbst
  • Makayda Johnson
  • Hari Biswa
  • Karen Devora-Cigarroa
  • Nithin Sebastian
  • Zahydee Machado
  • Jayson Sayasone
  • Rick Jensen
  • Adaora Nwizu
  • Maria Cruz-Escobar
  • Nairah Saldana

Research mentors are

  • Josh Peschel, agricultural and biosystems engineering
  • Peng Wei and Mohammed Anwar Manjanoor, aerospace engineering
  • Ashraf Bastawros, aerospace engineering
  • Surya Mallapragada and Metin Uz, chemical and biological engineering
  • Eric Cochran, chemical and biological engineering
  • Derrick Rollins and Dillon Hurd, chemical and biological engineering
  • Chris Rehmann and Lauran Schwab, civil, construction and environmental engineering
  • Say Kee Ong, Kaoru Ikuma and Rayla Vilar,civil, construction and environmental engineering
  • Wei Le, electrical and computer engineering, and Danilo Perez, computer science
  • Akhilesh Tyagi, Yunxi Guo and Ananda Shaikh-Mohammed, electrical and computer engineering
  • Lotfi Ben-Othmane, electrical and computer engineering
  • Joe Zambreno, electrical and computer engineering
  • Pranav Shrotriya and Agnivo Gosai, mechanical engineering
  • Ralph Napolitano, materials science and engineering
  • Kaitlin Bratlie, materials science and engineering and chemical and biological engineering, and Anuraag Boddupalli, chemical and biological engineering
Members of the Summer 2018 APEXE program pose in front of the Campanile on central campus.