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WVU Tech students talk research at the Capitol for Undergraduate Research Day

WVU Tech students joined student researchers from throughout the state today for Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol.

Mechanical engineering major Robert A. Gresham discusses his team’s work at Undergraduate Research Day.Mechanical engineering major Robert A. Gresham discusses his team’s work at Undergraduate Research Day.

WVU Tech students showcased 14 research projects ranging from the role of religion in coping with stress among college students to smart window technology and the use of algae to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions.

Daniel Noel, a senior electrical engineering student from Clay County, was part of a team that tackled electricity production in automobiles.

“Our project attempts to solve the issue of electricity production in vehicles. Right now, the typical alternator in your car is only 21 percent efficient, which means that for every dollar you spend in electrical power production to run things like your air conditioner or radio, you lose 79 cents. Not very many people know that,” he said.

“We’ve taken the wasted power from vibrations in the shocks and heat from the exhaust and converted it into electrical energy. It will increase the fuel efficiency of your car by 5 percent. Over the life of a vehicle, that’s a savings of about $2,500. The technology can also be used in a much larger scale to capture and convert wasted vibration energy on trains and bridges,” he said.

Robert A. Gresham, a senior in WVU Tech’s mechanical engineering program, visited the capitol with his team to share their work on ocean thermal energy conversion.

“This type of conversion uses temperature difference between low and high points in the ocean to create power. This process typically relies on steam to produce power, but our design works with ammonia, which allows us to operate within a much smaller temperature difference. We used modeling software to model what the real system would look like and to see how changes in surface temperature would impact power output and efficiency,” he said.

He said that modeling projects in this way is an important step in working out problems and ensuring that multi-million-dollar energy projects have solutions in place before they are built.

For Gresham, Undergraduate Research Day is an important opportunity to showcase the work of West Virginia’s students.

“It lets people know that we have very, very smart kids right here in West Virginia. If we provide them opportunities to show the kind of work they can do and how smart they can be, it reminds people of the importance and value of what college students are doing,” he said.

Mark Magallanes, a junior psychology major who came to WVU Tech from Arizona, said the day is also about professional practice. He discussed his research on narcissism among college athletes, and found that he was gaining valuable experience in pitching his work to professionals.

“It’s important to put yourself out there as you prepare for graduate school and finding a job,” he said. “It’s nice to meet with people and recruiters to get your name out there. To learn to talk about your work with confidence and open your mind to other research that’s going on.”

Visit  WVU Tech on Flickr to see photos from Undergraduate Research Day.