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Thursday, August 18, 2022

Academics & Research

Research Day shows off big ideas

Students filled UH’s Rockwell Pavilion Thursday for Undergraduate Research Day, where they set up displays for projects they have worked on all year.

The event was a joint effort between the Office of Undergraduate Research and the Honors College, and was aimed at showcasing student work. This year featured over 100 student research projects.

Associate Dean of Undergraduate Research Stuart A. Long greeted students, faculty and staff at one of Undergraduate Research Day’s most successful years yet.

“In 2005, when we had our first Research Day, we had 27 students presenting their work and we were hard-pressed to even come close to filling this one room. Today, we have over 120 undergraduates showcasing their efforts,” said Long.

“Considering how we’ve grown, its clear the UH community has embraced undergraduate research and created a culture that encourages intellectual pursuits. This commitment is pivotal in our continuing journey towards achieving Tier One status.”

Each room of the pavilion exhibited works from different areas of study, with projects focused on a broad range of topics, such as a redesigned seeing-eye stick for the visually impaired that was featured in the Architecture and Technology room.
Thi Vu explained the methodology behind the project, calling it “The Smart Tracking Intuitive Cane,” as he stood in front of his poster and showcased its features.

“This is not to take away what they’re already used to, it’s about what we can create to make their life more convenient and simpler,” Vu said.

“Basically what this unit does is it detects the wide range of obstacles and also detects height. The infrared that’s in there as well detects if you are going upstairs or downstairs. One of the biggest obstacles is stairs,” Vu said.

“The system consists of two units — the GPS and the sensory. The GPS gives basically a straight forward path, but the sensory would predict unpredictable obstacles like fire hydrants, trees and stuff like that.”

At a different station a few tables away lay a wearable cooling system for people who work extended hours in the heat. This potential life-saving device was designed after a day as a farmer, said Kellee Kimbro, whose research on this topic began in the start of the semester.

“We wanted to do something with heating and cooling so we did research on farming and heat exhaustion. We found that 25 percent of injuries from people who work on a farm are heat related,” said Kimbro.
“We also found that the head and the back were the heat receptors, so that’s where you feel most heat.”Kimbro’s partner Juan Jimenez said that by regulating those two areas of the body, one could regulate body temperature as a whole.“The sensors can sense how hot the person is getting, and then it sends a signal to the microprocessors that regulate the thermo-electric coolers,” Kimbro said.

Karen Weber, the director of the Office for Undergraduate Research, presented awards to 13 students in three categories of excellence. The first category awarded prizes for well thought-out, informative and eye-catching posters, Weber said. The other categories were Team Project and Audience’s Choice.

“To the undergraduate researchers, we could not be more proud of you,” Weber said.

Rathindra Bose, vice president for research and technology, likened Research Day projects to a gateway to future success.

“This gives you the learning beyond your textbook. You know how advancement is done in a field. You know what the unsolved problem you have to solve,” Bose said. “You know how to design experiments to solve a problem. This is beyond classroom. No textbook is going to teach you that.”

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