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 Associate Academic Dean of STEM, Equity, & Inclusive Excellence, 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 2022 Projects

 

Evaluating the temperature dependence of the Bauschinger effect in aerospace aluminium alloys.

Discipline: Mechanical Engineering
Supervisor. Professor J S Robinson

Research field of the research project: (Keywords). Mechanical Engineering, aluminium alloys, residual stress.

Background: Aerospace aluminium alloys are routinely stress relieved by the application of plastic deformation. This takes place after the solution treatment and quenching stage of the heat treatment. Both stretching and compression can be used. This project will investigate the temperature dependence of the phenomena known as the Bauschinger effect which has a detrimental influence on the strength properties of materials that are subject to plastic deformation and then subsequently loaded in the reverse direction. The project will involve solution heat treating samples and then immediately subjecting them to approximately 2% plastic strain in compression, and then reversing the load into stretching, measuring the yield stresses in both compression and tension. The tests will be completed at room temperature and down to -197°C.

Scientific hypothesis being tested: That the magnitude of the Bauschinger effect in heat treatable aluminium alloys is temperature dependent.

Background that the student needs to have: Strength of materials, engineering mechanics, engineering materials

Analytical techniques to be employed: Mechanical testing at sub-zero temperature including cryogenic temperatures.

 

Comparing stress relieving methods for heat treatable aerospace aluminium alloys.

Discipline: Mechanical Engineering
Supervisor. Professor J S Robinson

Research field of the research project: (Keywords). Mechanical Engineering, aluminium alloys, residual stress.

Background: Aerospace aluminium alloys are amenable to stress relieving by the application of plastic deformation where the geometry permits it, for example rectilinear blocks, shapes with constant cross sectional area. For complex shapes post solution treatment and quenching deformation, is not always practicable. Alternative methods like quenching into a polyalkylene glycol solution (PAG) can be used. This project will investigate the impact of both cold compression and PAG quenching on the surface residual stresses remaining in fully heat treated rectilinear blocks made from the very high strength aerospace aluminium alloy 7449. It will also determine the impact on the mechanical properties of the alloys.

Scientific hypothesis being tested: Impact of quench rate and plastic deformation on residual stress in heat treated aluminium alloys.

Background that the student needs to have: Strength of materials, engineering mechanics, engineering materials

Analytical techniques to be employed: Residual stress measurement by X-ray diffraction, tensile testing, indentation hardness testing, electrical conductivity testing

 

Evaluating the magnitude of the Bauschinger effect in an aerospace aluminium alloy.

Discipline: Mechanical Engineering
Supervisor. Professor J S Robinson

Research field of the research project: (Keywords). Mechanical Engineering, aluminium alloys, residual stress.

Background: Aerospace aluminium alloys are routinely stress relieved at room temperature by the application of plastic deformation after solution treatment and quenching. Both stretching and compression can be used. This project will investigate the influence of the magnitude of the initial stress relieving compressive plastic strain on the ensuing tensile yield stress. The tensile yield stress is significantly lower than the initial compressive yield stress, and this is widely known as the Bauschinger effect. The project will involve solution heat treating tensile test samples and then immediately subjecting them to varying degrees of plastic strain in compression (up to ~5%) and then reversing the load into stretching, measuring the tensile yield stress.

Scientific hypothesis being tested: That the magnitude of the Bauschinger effect in heat treatable aluminium alloys is influenced by the magnitude of initial plastic strain.

Background that the student needs to have: Strength of materials, engineering mechanics, engineering materials

Analytical techniques to be employed: Mechanical testing on a 300kN servo-hydraulic load frame.

 

Computational modelling of mechanical behaviour of lightweight carbon fibre materials  

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

Research field of the research project: Mechanical Engineering, 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 light weight 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 mechanics of materials

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

 

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

Discipline: Biomedical Engineering
Supervisor: Dr. John Mulvihill, Biomedical Engineering

Research field of the research project: Biomedical Engineering, 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 envelops 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 affect 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)

 

An Experimental Investigation of Secondary Bending in Double Layer Bending Active Gridshell Assemblies

Discipline: Civil Engineering
Supervisor: Tom Cosgrove Prof. of Civil Engineering

Research field of the research project: Civil Engineering

Background: Shells are curved 3-dimensional, structurally efficient forms. Gridshells are similar but made from long laths arranged in a curved grid. A bending active gridshell [BAG] is made by bending a flat grid into a double curved gridshell. BAG members must both flexible and strong. For larger spans, multiple layers, each relatively flexible, may be independently formed and then locked together using shear blocks to yield a composite BAG of great stiffness and strength. Research at the University of Limerick being conducted in conjunction with our industrial partner, Smartply-Medite, suggests that secondary bending occurs for some grid geometries. The research is both experimental and computational and examines the factors affecting the deformation of BAG’s

Research Questions:  How does the influence of secondary bending on the deformation of curved double layer gridshell assemblies vary with grid geometry?

Student Pre-requisite Knowledge:  Elementary mechanics of materials, standard engineering theory of bending, MS Excel. For a student with Finite Element modelling (FEM) skills, there are a variety of modelling problems to be examined. This work is relevant to the design of a large range of structural forms and materials.

 Possible Research Tasks:

  • Reviewing supplied literature and updating literature database.
  • Experimental testing of steel double layer curved steel assemblies
  • Computational: Modelling work for a student with FEA skills.
  • Analysing and writing up results.

Study Environment: A summer research student will be supervised by Prof. Cosgrove but will also be mentored by Mr. Jonathan Foley who is completing an MSc thesis on the topic and will be starting experimental work in the late Spring/early Summer

  • Collins, M., O ‘Regan, B. and Cosgrove, T. (2015) 'Potential of Irish orientated strand board in bending active structures', International Journal of Civil, Structural, Construction and Architectural Engineering; 9 (3), 305-312.
  • Collins, M. (2016) A Computational and Experimental Study of Irish Orientated Strand Board in Bending Active Gridshells, unpublished thesis (PhD), University of Limerick.
  • Collins, M., Cosgrove, T. and Mellad, A. (2017) 'Characterisation of OSB properties for application in gridshells', Materials and Structures, 50(2), 131.
  • Mellad, A., Collins, M. and Cosgrove, T. (2018) 'Composite Action in Double Layer Bending Active OSB Gridshells', in Civil Engineering Research in Ireland (CERI2018), University College Dublin (UCD), Civil Engineering Research Association of Ireland (CERAI),
  • Collins, M. and Cosgrove, T. (2019) 'Dynamic relaxation modelling of braced bending active gridshells with rectangular sections', Engineering Structures, 187, 16-24.

 

Cyber Security for Electric Vehicles

Discipline: Computer Engineering/Science & Security
Supervisor: Dr. Thomas Newe, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems

Research field of the research project: Computer Engineering/Science & Security

Background: With the worldwide growth of Electric vehicles, the topic of car hacking and connected vehicle security is poised to become one of the most talked-about (and worried-about) issues in the industry. The electric vehicle, by its very nature, has large computing capabilities and this capability makes it susceptible, and a target for hackers. In recent years the movie industry has dramatized car hacking in movies such as the Fast and the Furious movie, The Fate of the Furious. While the movie is fictional it will prompt a lot of what-if comments and this will attract the hacker to have a go.

Scientific hypothesis being tested: This project will investigate the possibilities of hacking the modern vehicle and it will outline measures (IDS-Intrusion Detection Systems and IPS-Intrusion Prevention Systems) that can be taken to prevent such hacking. The networks involved in such systems; for vehicle control, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, charging, roadside communications, systems interconnect etc. will be documented as will the security measures/protocols they implement.

Background that the student needs to have: The student should have a basic background in data communications and security.

Analytical techniques to be employed: Hacking techniques and IDS/IPS methods employed to detect and prevent them.

 

Blockchain and its use in Smart Manufacturing

Discipline: Computer Engineering/Science & Security
Supervisor: Dr. Thomas Newe, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems

Research field of the research project: Computer Engineering/Science & Security

Background: The digital twin is being used to provide the link between the physical manufacturing world and the digital one, and blockchain is necessary to guarantee security and traceability of data used for this. Blockchain has evolved into the essential tool necessary for providing full transparency for the transfer of data into the Digital Twin.

Scientific hypothesis being tested: This project is to investigate how blockchain can be used for traceability and what tools are necessary for its deployment in the digital twin.

Background that the student needs to have:  The student should have a basic background in Computer Eng/Science and a knowledge of data security.

Analytical techniques to be employed: Blockchain and how it is employed for secure traceability of data, in this case the data is for use in a Digital Twin for a smart manufacturing process.

 

Development of a biocatalytic flow reactor

Discipline: Enzyme immobilisation, catalysis, flow systems, bio/electrochemistry
Supervisor: Professor Edmond Magner

Background: Flow reactors are now frequently used to replace batch reactors as they can enable the use of more simplified manufacturing processes that can be scaled by the incorporation of additional flow channels. The challenge with enzymatic based systems is to ensure that the catalysts are immobilised in a mechanically stable manner with retention of activity. We have developed flow systems for single enzyme reactors and are now expanding this to multi-enzyme systems. As part of this work, the flow patterns, channel dimensions and methods of immobilising enzymes need to be optimised. This work is part of an ongoing project with the research centre SSPC (www.sspc.ie)

Scientific hypothesis being tested: How to optimise the flow system and flow pattern in a reactor utilising enzymes as catalysts.

Background that the student needs to have: A background in chemistry or biochemistry or bio/chemical engineering is preferred

Analytical techniques to be employed: Electrochemical techniques, CAD systems, enzymatic assays, characterisation (FTIR, Raman, SEM, gas chromatography)

 

Biomass valorisation into value added compounds

Discipline: Chemical engineering, catalyses, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry
Supervisor: Prof. Witold Kwapinski, adviser: Ayman Hijazi

Abstract: Our research is economy-oriented as we seek to develop a cost-saving catalytic system based on using non-expensive metal-doped supports. We look forward to conducting a small part of literature review that revolves around collecting thermodynamics data, kinetics and Gibbs free energy, for the reactions that take place during the reduction of LA in the presence of FA to yield GVL platform compound, both catalytic and side reactions inclusive. The outcome we sought is to publish a critical review journal paper in biomass-energy oriented journal.

Student’s background: good data and information collections skills and writing skills

Analytical techniques: Excel, EndNote

 

Metal additive manufacturing processing parameters

Discipline: mechanical engineering, titanium alloys, additive manufacturing
Supervisor: Dr. David Tanner

BackgroundAdditive manufacturing is now routinely used to produce medical devices. In Ireland, DePuy Synthes, the Orthopaedics Company of Johnson & Johnson, uses this processing technology to produce knee replacement implants for example and has funded PhD studies at the University of Limerick. Processing parameters such as scan strategy, laser power, thermal history, etc. are important for optimal mechanical properties and to minimise residual stress and distortion.  The Abaqus finite element package can model the thermal distribution of additively manufactured parts during the build process. Apart from material properties which are readily available, the model requires information about the laser toolpath during the process. This is often taken from G-Code files generated by specialist software. Training on Abaqus can be provided as required. Selected test specimens will be evaluated through mechanical testing.

Scientific hypothesis being tested: Can metal additive manufacturing process be improved through simulations and experimental testing

Background that the student needs to have: Finite element analysis, Matlab, programming.

Analytical techniques to be employed: Abaqus and Matlab


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