Engineering Sciences

Opportunities for undergraduates to conduct research in engineering, the applied sciences, and in related fields are also available through UROP. As part of our program you could have the opportunity to work with professors to undertake some extraordinary projects covering topics ranging from bioengineering to web applications to environmental engineering.  Our dedicated faculty and research facilities also provide opportunities for students to engage in hands-on learning and we encourage undergraduates from all relevant concentrations to tackle projects during the academic year.

Sample Project 1: Using Injectable Gas Bubbles to Monitor Blood Flow

Project Objectives and Methodology: 
Novel techniques are being developed to use ultrasound imaging in combination with imaging-enhancing gas microbubbles to monitor the quality and quantity of blood flow.  The importance of monitoring flow is to assess the possibility of growing tumors or tissue viability. Models that mimic human blood flow will be scanned to assess the efficacy of this technique.

Student Tasks and Responsibilities: 
The student will work with a graduate student supervisor, and go through the entire experimental procedure, from experimental design to data analysis. A medical ultrasound scanner will be used to collect the data.  Post-processing of the data will be done by computer- based image processing.

Sample Project 2: Search for Signatures of Solar Mass Ejections

Project Objectives and Methodology: 
During large explosions which occur on the Sun, large amounts of solar material are ejected into interplanetary space.  These solar mass ejections can seriously affect satellites in orbit around Earth.  However, it is extremely difficult to understand the physical nature of the explosions causing the ejections.  It is even more difficult to predict these events accurately.  In this study, novel composition data is being used to search for compositional variations associated with these solar mass ejections.  This data will be then used for a comprehensive analysis of periods of solar mass ejections during the last two years, and also for new data measured by our active space instruments. 

Student Tasks and Responsibilities: 
a)  Work with a Ph.D. student and myself to learn about the instrument used to access the data.  b)  Learn how to use Mathlab or IDL to access and plot the data. c)  Establish data base. d)  Perform statistical study of this data in collaboration with a Ph.D. student and myself.

Sample Project 3: Driver Interface Research: Safety and Usability

Project Objectives and Methodology: 
Our research concerns the design of driver interfaces for motor vehicles of the future.  We are interested evaluating the design of head-up displays, navigation systems, warning devices, cellular phones, and the use of email and the internet while driving.  We are also interested in the general problems of driver workload, driver distraction, future directions in telematics.  See www.umich.edu/~driving.

Student Tasks and Responsibilities: 
Students assist in all phases of our research including the design of experiments, writing instructions for subjects, testing drivers on the road and in our simulator, reducing response time, lane keeping, and eye fixation data, producing summary tables and figures, writing reports, recruiting subjects, and developing simulator scripts.

Sample Project 4: Persistence and Recovery of Organic Contaminants from Soils

Project Objectives and Methodology: 
Through laboratory experimentation and computer modeling we are seeking to explore the initial entrapment and treatment of soils contaminated by organic chemicals.  We are investigating the performance of innovative technologies and the difficulties posed by natural variations in soil and contaminant properties. 

Student Tasks and Responsibilities: 
Students will be involved in all aspects of experiments, including apparatus design and construction, observation, documentation and data analysis.  Participation in weekly research group meetings will be encouraged.

Sample Project 5: Nanowire-Based Flexible Transparent Thin-Film Devices

Project Objectives and Methodology:  
As the size of semiconductor devices approaches several fundamental and practical limits, nanostructures such as one-dimensional nanowires or carbon nanotubes will likely be employed in future electronics to sustain the device scaling. To date, great effort and progress have been made on nanowire-based electronic, optical and bio-sensor devices at the single-device level. Recently our group has carried out studies on thin-film transistors (TFTs) based on single-crystalline nanowires that may pave the way of large-scale application of nanowire devices. Such nanowire TFTs offer much higher mobility compared to conventional amorphous-silicon or organic TFT devices, and are compatible with flexible substrates such as plastics that can be used in flexible electronics (eg. wearable electronics and electronic paper). The objective of this project is to help develop large scale nanowire-based transparent electronics on flexible plastics substrates. These "invisible" devices may be used in displays and will likely stimulate other novel applications. 

Student Tasks and Responsibilities:  
The student will help develop the techniques to assembly large quantities of nanowires into the thin-film form, and device and circuit fabrication and characterization.

Sample Project 6: Mobile Security Service via Utility Computing

Project Objectives and Methodology: 
As mobile devices grow increasingly capable, user's expect them to mirror their desktop applications and use cases.  Hence, web browsing, e-commerce and similar web-services are increasingly popular on mobile devices. SSL, and its underpinning public-key cryptography operations are a fundamental component of these services.  While some services such as GMail require that the initial authentication be performed over https, all other interaction between the user and GMail service occurs in the clear.  On the other hand, banking services require that the user's entire communication session be secure. However, as past work has shown (Cobalt, Trustworthy kiosks, etc.), secure session establishment is one of the most expensive components of a user's interaction with a webservice.  Specifically, computing the public key exponentials and verifying the credentials of the remote party is intensive in terms of CPU, power and computation time. To address this problem, we propose to shift the burden of public-key cryptography off the mobile device to the cloud.  One possible usage scenario is as follows.  At the start of the day, the user's mobile device establishes a secure session with an EC2 (or similar in-cloud) server, and negotiates a session key with a ttl of 1 day.  Later, when the user attempts to check his email, the mail server will request an SSL session be established.  The mobile device offloads all public-key computations to his EC2 server by encrypting the SSL seesion parameters received from the mail server and sending it off to the EC2 server (the actual messages can be sent over wifi or as an SMS).  The EC2 server performs the operations and returns the results to the mobile device as an SMS.  The mobile device can use these results and successfully establish a secure session.  Any future communication between the mobile device and the webservice will either be in the clear or encrypted with a session key (symmetric-key cryptography) which has significantly low overhead when compared to public-key crypto.

Student tasks and responsibilities: 
Build a security service that runs on EC2 using the Amazon API.  Build a mobile client that interposes on cryptographic operations and offloads them to the EC2 server instead of performing them locally.  Measurement of the offload approach as compared to the current local approach.