STEM Summer Research - Limerick Courses

You will earn 6 research credits over 6 weeks, conducting faculty supervised, hands-on, directed study research projects with results that will culminate in the preparation of a research paper.  You will complete a minimum of 240 hours on research in and out of the laboratory.

Faculty mentors will work closely with you to direct your continued growth and knowledge development in the chosen research topic discipline.

  • Make sure your courses transfer back for credit with your home school – this is your responsibility.

Choosing Your Research Project

  • Review Project titles and descriptions below.
  • List 3 (in order of preference) in your personal essay.
  • Program is highly individualized, with limited enrollment.
  • You will need to complete a brief Literature Review in consultation with your research supervisor prior to departure before the start of the program. More details here.
  • We encourage you to contact Arcadia’s Assistant Dean of STEM programs, Dr. Jessie Guinn, to discuss your particular research interests further.

Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering, Materials Engineering

Course ID Title Credits Syllabus
LIME RSLW 392S International Independent Research in STEM Fields 6 PDF

Summer 2019 Projects

  • Role of Meninges in Concussion: Mechanical and Structural Characterisation of Porcine Meninges Membrane (read more)
  • Experimental Emulation of Capillary Flow (read more)
  • Manufacture of a Composite Nose Cone for a Formula Student Car (read more)
  • The Effect of Constraint on Quench Induced Residual Stresses During Precipitation Hardening of 7000 Series Aluminium Alloys (read more)
  • Computational Modelling of Mechanical Behaviour of Lightweight Carbon Fibre Materials (read more)
  • Playground Science for School Teachers (read more)
  • The Underlying Mathematical Framework in the Architectural Process of Christopher Alexander (read more)
  • An Experimental Investigation of Composite Action in Double Layer Bending Active Gridshells Made from Engineered Timber (read more)
  • Paper Folding Axiomatics (read more)
  • Finite Element Modelling of Quenching Aluminium Alloys to Account for Thermal Fluid Interaction (read more)
  • Computer Aided Motion Analysis of the Electric Vehicle using Solidworks (read more)

2019 Research Project Descriptions


Discipline: Biomedical Engineering

Role of Meninges in Concussion: Mechanical and Structural Characterisation of Porcine Meninges Membrane

Dr. John Mulvihill, Biomedical Engineering

Research field of the research project: Soft Tissue Biomechanics, concussion

Background: Concussion awareness is increasing almost daily in most mainstream sports. Concussion is one of the mildest forms of brain damage. However, it is this mildness of injury which makes it one of the most insidious, as repeated and undetected concussions can lead to permanently altered brain function. There is currently no scientific test for concussion – only a subjective assessment. The meninges is a series of membranes that envelop the brain to protect it during impact. The purpose of this project is to mechanically characterise this membrane using, uniaxial, biaxial and fracture toughness techniques, along with electron microscopy. The project will also apply an injury mimicking concussion on the brain and comparing the effect of concussion on mechanical and structural properties of the tissue

Scientific hypothesis being tested: Are the mechanical properties of the meninges location dependent within the brain? What effect would this have on location-specific concussive impacts, and cortical protection design?

Background that the student needs to have: The students should have a lot of knowledge and experience in mechanical characterisation experiments, and hyper/linear elastic stress analysis. The students should have a basic background in biology.

Analytical techniques to be employed: Uniaxial testing of porcine tissue, stress/strain analysis, statistics, electron microscopy (will provide training)


Discipline: Biomedical Engineering

Experimental emulation of capillary flow

Professor Jacques Huyghe, Bernal Chair of Biomedical Engineering

Research field of the research project:

Background: Capillary flow plays a key role in a number of diseases, such as diabetes or microvascular coronary disease. Because the visualization of capillary events in vivo is difficult, there is a need to develop organ-on-a-chip models of capillary flow and exchange. The purpose of this project is to emulate capillary flow and exchange in a microfluidic device, and observe the flow, red blood cell deformation and oxygen release under confocal microscopy. Red blood cells are guided through an oxygen-rich PDMS environment where after they are guided through an oxygen-depleted PDMS environment. Fluorescence quenching allows the measuring of oxygen partial pressures around the red blood cells. Hematocrit levels are quantified in the microchannel.

Scientific hypothesis being tested:

Background that the student needs to have:

Analytical techniques to be employed:


Discipline: Aeronautical/Mechanical Engineering

Manufacture of a composite nose cone for a formula student car

Dr. Walter Stanley, Aeronautical/Mechanical Engineering

Research field of the research project: Formula Student design and composite materials

Background: The candidate will be required to design the cone, the mould and progress to manufacture both. It will require the candidate to possess design ability and practical manufacturability. The demonstrator will ultimately be impact tested to confirm the design's conformance with the requirements.

Scientific hypothesis being tested: The ability to design, construct and impact test a front nose of a Formula student automobile

Background that the student needs to have: Design and practical hands-on ability to manufacture a mould and a prototype part

Analytical techniques to be employed: Composite laminate plate theory, laminate lay-up design, mould design, design for impact


Discipline: Materials Engineering

The effect of constraint on quench induced residual stresses during precipitation hardening of 7000 series aluminium alloys

Professor Jeremy Robinson, Associate Professor of Aerospace Materials

Research field of the research project: Aerospace Metallic Materials, Stress Analysis.

Background: Aerospace aluminium alloys rely on rapid quenching from temperatures close to 500°C to permit the development of strength by the metallurgical process known as precipitation hardening. This period of rapid cooling is usually carried out by immersion in cold water. An unavoidable consequence of this is the introduction of large magnitude residual stresses. These stresses must be relieved prior to the material being subsequently processed or used. A new method of accomplishing this is reported to involve constraining the material during the aging stage of the heat treatment. Aging involves reheating the material in the range 100 to 200°C to promote precipitation of hardening phases. This project will aim to assess if this method to see if it can indeed relieve the residual stresses and to what degree.

Scientific hypothesis being tested: Does constraining heat treatable aluminium alloys during the aging process result in reduced residual stress magnitudes.

Background that the student needs to have: The student should have a basic background in metallic materials and linear elastic stress analysis methods.  The project will involve quite a lot of practical work in the laboratory both heat-treating aluminium alloys and stress determination.

Analytical techniques to be employed: The primary method of residual stress characterisation will be x-ray diffraction.


Discipline: Mechanical/Materials Engineering

Computational modelling of mechanical behaviour of lightweight carbon fibre materials  

Professor Noel O’Dowd, University of Limerick Chair in Mechanical Engineering

Research field of the research project: Computational Mechanics

Background: Engineering design is increasingly based on computational tools such as the finite-element method. The use of microstructurally based numerical models has gained increasing acceptance in engineering design and have been shown to provide accurate predictions of mechanical behaviour. Such models can also be used to optimise the material microstructure to improve performance. This project will focus on carbon fibre reinforced composites, lightweight materials, previously used mainly in aerospace but now increasingly used in automotive and energy applications (e.g. wind turbine blades). These materials are important because of their lightweight in conjunction with excellent mechanical properties.

Scientific hypothesis being tested: Can the mechanical response of carbon fibre composites under complex loading conditions be accurately predicted using microstructurally accurate models.

Background that the student needs to have: Mechanical Engineering (or related discipline) and an interest in the mechanics of materials

Analytical techniques to be employed: mechanics of materials, finite-element analysis, possible extended finite-element methods (XFEM), depending on experience.


Discipline: Science Education/Engagement

Playground Science for School Teachers

Professor Conleth Hussey, Professor of Lightwave Technology

Research field of the research project:

Background: Having participated in open-days and school visit days for children and young people with science tricks and demonstrations I think there is a need to upskill the teachers with some of the basic science involved in pendulums, balancing a pole, getting a ball to ride up the side of a bucket, the syphon, etc.

Scientific hypothesis being tested:

Background that the student needs to have:

Analytical techniques to be employed: 


Discipline: Science Education/Engagement

The underlying mathematical framework in the architectural process of Christopher Alexander

Professor Conleth Hussey, Professor of Lightwave Technology

Research field of the research project:

Background: The acclaimed and outspoken architect Christopher Alexander trained initially as a mathematician and has made original contributions to the field of computer science but is more famous for his unorthodox approach to architecture. This project will explore Alexander’s processes to see if we can extract his mathematical ontology and apply it elsewhere.

Scientific hypothesis being tested:

Background that the student needs to have:

Analytical techniques to be employed:


Discipline: Materials Engineering

An Experimental Investigation of Composite Action in Double Layer Bending Active Gridshells made from Engineered Timber

2019 Summer Engineering Research Program Project Proposal

Tom Cosgrove, Prof. of Civil Engineering

Background: Shells are 3-dimensional, efficient structural forms. Gridshells are like shells but made from individual lengths arranged in a 3-D curved pattern. Materials like steel may be pre-curved and then welded into 3-D forms. Pre-curving and jointing timber is expensive. Bending active gridshells start with a flat grid which is then bent on site into a 3-D form. The elements must therefore be relatively flexible for forming yet sufficiently strong and stiff to support loads.

For larger spans and loads, multiple layers, each relatively flexible, may be independently formed and then locked together using timber shear blocks to yield a composite structure of great stiffness and strength. Research at the University of Limerick being conducted in conjunction with our industrial partner Smartply-Medite uses laths made from Irish Oriented Strand Board [OSB ]in bending active double layer gridshells. The research is to establish experimentally the degree of composite action in such double-layer assemblies. Initial testing has been carried out on straight double layer assemblies. This research project will extend the research to individual curved assemblies and, time permitting, to crossed pairs of such assemblies.

Research Question:  What is the degree of composite action apparent in curved double layer assemblies of Irish OSB?

Student Pre-requisite Knowledge:  Elementary mechanics of materials, standard small-deflection linear elastic theory of bending (linear strain profile, horizontal shear), use of MSExcel spreadsheet to analyse data. Experience in using ABAQUS finite element software would be an advantage but not essential

Research Tasks:

  • Reviewing supplied literature on gridshells, engineered timber and testing methods,
  • Preparing and assembling individual double layer assemblies from raw material supplied by our industrial partner.
  • Conditioning the test specimens for moisture content, and conducting short-term load-deformation tests on  curved assemblies,
  • Analysing and writing up the results.

This work has relevance for the understanding and design of a large range of structural forms and materials.


Discipline: Science Education/Engagement

Paper folding Axiomatics

Professor Conleth Hussey, Professor of Lightwave Technology

Research field of the research project:

Background: When the botany professor Kazugo Haga discovered the mathematics of paper folding – Origamics- little did he know that he was founding a revolution in how mathematics might be taught to children. This project will take up his project with a view to re-enchanting mathematics education that relies on the child's intuition and not on learned exercises from textbooks.

Scientific hypothesis being tested:

Background that the student needs to have:

Analytical techniques to be employed:

 
Discipline: Aerospace/Materials Engineering

Finite Element modelling of quenching of aluminium alloys to account for thermal fluid interaction

Dr. David Tanner, Senior Lecturer in Manufacturing Processing Technology

Research field of the research project: Aerospace Metallic Materials, Stress Analysis, structural finite element analysis

Background: Aerospace aluminium alloys rely on rapid quenching from temperatures close to 500°C to permit the development of strength by the metallurgical process known as precipitation hardening. This period of rapid cooling is undertaken by immersion in cold water. An unavoidable consequence of this is the introduction of large magnitude residual stresses. Finite element modelling of residual stress development during quenching has been successfully completed at the University of Limerick whereby the predict stress has been found to closely match the experimentally determined values.  However, recent studies have shown that the predicted displacement observed at the start of the quench does not accurately match the experimental case.  This project will aim to further model the process using the commercial code ABAQUS, to attempt to account for this discrepancy.

Scientific hypothesis being tested: Can finite element modelling accurately predict the displacement of a complicated part during the quenching process?

Background that the student needs to have: The student should have a basic background in metallic materials, finite element analysis and be comfortable in using advanced finite element software.

Analytical techniques to be employed: The ABAQUS Finite element method will be the primary software used for this project.


Discipline: Manufacturing/Mechanical Engineering

Computer Aided Motion Analysis of an Electric Vehicle using Solidworks

Dr. David Tanner, Senior Lecturer in Manufacturing Processing Technology

Research field of the research project: Computer Aided Motion analysis.

Background: Electric vehicles are becoming very popular worldwide due to environmental concerns and numerous governments around the world are giving financial incentives to encourage consumers to make the switch. As part of the engineering degree at the University of Limerick, first-year students design a basic vehicle to transport a bottle of water up a 15m slope. The students are given many variables, including different wheel sizes and pulley sizes.  They must use a 1mm aluminium sheet to manufacture a chassis and mount a 12v electric motor.  The students use theoretical calculations to estimate the optimum pulley and wheels to maximise speed up the slope with the aim of being the fastest car to complete the race. Videos from previous races can be found online. The aim of this proposed project is to create a “Digital Twin” of the winning car from 2019 using SolidWorks. This will require a student to create a full 3D assembly of the vehicle in SolidWorks from which they can undertake a motion study and calculate the torque and forces involved. Should time permit, the student will model more than one vehicle for consistency.  The aim is to test if the equations used by the students to optimise the design are fit-for-purpose and also create a useful software tool that will aid designers of electrical motor driven vehicles. This project fits closely with the new Confirm Research Centre which is currently developing Digital Twins of manufacturing processes used by multinational companies based around the University of Limerick.

Scientific hypothesis being tested: Can SolidWorks be used to accurately create a digital twin of a simple electric vehicle.

Background that the student needs to have: The student should have a basic background in Solid Modelling using SolidWorks or a similar package. They should also have a fundamental knowledge of stress analysis and motion analysis.  

Analytical techniques to be employed: The SolidWorks software package will be the primary software used for this project.


Grade Scale for University of Limerick - AACRAO EDGE

The following information is vetted and provided by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) on the Electronic Database for Global Education (EDGE).

Letter Grade Percentage Ranking U.S. Equivalent
A+/A/A- 70 - 100% First Class Honours A
B+/B/B- 60 - 69% Second Class Honours Upper B+
C+/C/C- 50 - 59% Second Class Honours Lower B
D+ 45 - 49% Third Class Honours C+
D/D- 40 - 44% Pass C
F 0 - 39% Fail F
Intellectual property copyright AACRAO EDGE