Mentors

Why become a PURE Mentor?

Application for graduate students interested in becoming mentors for Fall 2020 :  Apply!

The currently listed mentors are for the Fall 2020 semester.

MentorDescription
David Hanley
I am a Ph.D. student in Electrical and Computer Engineering and I work with Timothy Bretl. In general, I am interested in state estimation problems and navigation systems. Some of my recent work includes research on indoor positioning systems using variations of Earth’s magnetic field that are often present in buildings. As part of another project, I am working with a local, small company to develop a new navigation system for spacecraft. I graduated with a B.S. and M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from UIUC in 2013 and 2015 respectively.

Description of Possible Projects:

We currently work on magnetic field-based navigation systems, which leverages magnetic anomalies in indoor (where GPS is unavailable) environments to locate robots and pedestrians. We also work with a local company on a distributed inertial navigation system for small satellites. Research projects will be determined based on the skills and abilities of individual students and their relationship to these two areas of research, however, students should come prepared to learn new skills related to programming, circuits, and navigation systems. Work may involve experimentation with hardware in a lab (COVID conditions permitting).


Desired Skills/Time Commitment:

Successful students often commit 9 to 12 hours a week on their projects.
Jesus Osorio
I am currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the Transportation Systems group under Dr. Yanfeng Ouyang. My current research focuses on transportation systems evaluation, public transit networks, multi-modal transportation, intelligent transportation systems, and roadway safety.

Description of Possible Projects:

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has had far-reaching impacts on public health, the economy, and our ways of living. It adds to a long list of historic events that have thoroughly altered travel behavior and disrupted transportation systems on a global scale. Researchers found that COVID-19 has impacted the demand of almost all transportation modes, including not only public transit but also personal vehicles and bike-sharing systems. This might be due to the mandatory quarantine orders, social distancing requirements, and the fear and anxiety of being in enclosed spaces.

The purpose of this project is to collect historic data and research findings, both quantitative and qualitative, on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the travel patterns and demand fluctuations in the Chicago Metropolitan Area. The project will possibly consider the fluctuations in demand for different modes of transportation (i.e., bus, train, and ride-sharing), socioeconomic groups, as well equity considerations regarding areas with low access to transit. The scope can vary according to the interest and initiative of the students, and it can be expanded/modified to also cover previous epidemics or other prolonged events in history and multiple cities/countries.

Desired Skills/Time Commitment:

- Time commitment may vary dependent on the willingness and initiative of the student according to the goals set at the beginning of the project. However, I estimate it could be anywhere between 2-6 hours per week.

Desired skills:
- MS Excel
- Python
- Statistics (basic)
- Good communication skills

While these skills are a plus for candidates, they are not a requirement. It would be more important to have students who are willing to learn and find interest in transportation systems or transportation engineering. Currently, the skills "required" for this study could be learned in the beginning stages of the project.
Souvik Bhattacharya
Souvik received his B.Tech and M.Tech in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur in 2019. His Master’s thesis was on the synthesis of aligned carbon nanotubes (CNTs) by chemical vapor deposition. He currently works with Prof. Sankaran in NPRE and his Ph.D. research is focused on the non-equilibrium conversion of layered materials from solution-printed molecular precursors.

Description of Possible Projects:

1. Ion beam irradiation simulations on layered materials using the SRIM software package (open source). The student(s) would complement experiments by running short computer simulations to calculate for example, the sputter yield of different atoms in a 2D material thin-film at different ion irradiation energies. Calculations could also be done for the production of defects (vacancies, phonons etc.) which could alter the optical/electronic properties of materials.

2. Analysis of data obtained from different materials characterization techniques. The student(s) would use a standard data analysis and plotting software such as Origin Pro to analyze X-ray diffractograms and Raman spectra for different materials currently being studied in our group. Some examples are boron-doped diamond particles, hexagonal boron nitride or molybdenum disulfide films. If time and circumstances permit, the student(s) could also be involved in the synthesis of these materials (would require in-person assistance).

Desired Skills/Time Commitment:

Some programming or prior lab experience would be helpful, but not necessary. Most of the learning will happen as we go and I will personally teach them procedures along with my PI.
Carly Romnes
I am a 3rd year Ph.D. student in the Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering Department and am advised by Prof. James Stubbins and Prof. Jessica Krogstad. My current work is focused on developing new additive manufacturing alloys that can withstand extreme environments; this project is in collaboration with NASA. In general, my research interests involve developing and characterizing materials that will be used in nuclear and space systems.

Description of Possible Projects:
This project will require using Thermo-Calc and the PARROT module to develop a materials database for our material of interest. Once a database has been developed, a ternary phase diagram will be constructed. This work will allow us to better predict the phases expected in this material.


Desired Skills/Time Commitment:

Familiarity with Thermo-Calc and coding is desired, but not required.
Time commitment is flexible, but generally may be 5-10 hours a week.
Sonata Valaitis
Sonata Valaitis is a graduate student in the Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering Department at UIUC. She studies computational plasma physics with Prof. Davide Curreli's research group, focusing primarily on particle-in-cell methods and their applications to magnetic confinement fusion devices. She is also studying physics-based machine learning algorithms in collaboration with Sandia National Laboratory.

Description of Possible Projects:

Depending on student's interests, could either A) implement and compare the performance of a few different particle sampling algorithms for application in a particle-in-cell code (probably in Python), or B) implement a simple machine learning algorithm and quantify its uncertainty for a specific physical problem

Desired Skills/Time Commitment:

Some familiarity or previous experience with coding (especially in Python) would be beneficial, but isn't required. Knowledge of statistics would also be helpful. You might enjoy this if you are curious about how different algorithms work, what makes them effective for different types of problems, and how we quantify the accuracy of the predictions made by those algorithms.
Kevin Wandke

I am a second year graduate student in Electrical Engineering, who completed his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering here at UIUC as well. I work in YZ’s lab http://z.engineering.illinois.edu/. I’m passionate about automation and want to explore ways soft robots can perform tasks normal robots cannot.

Description of Possible Projects:

1.) Control of soft actuators: Develop a code testbed for existing soft actuator designs so that the actuator’s response to inputs can be quantified using a camera, pressure gauges, motion capture system or other sensors.

2.) Soft robot simulation: Run a variety of simulations of soft robots using an existing simulation platform and collect and organize the data to show the relationship between material properties and the robot’s response.

Desired Skills/Time Commitment:

Skills will depend on the project, but in general students should possess some of the following skills: Python or C++ coding, CAD/FEM software proficiency, understanding of basic control theory (ECE 486, ME 460 or equivalent), interest in soft robotics

I would expect a student to be willing to commit ~8 hours per week to this project


David Null

My name is David and I am a graduate in ECE. I work in a soft robotics lab. My focus is in controlling this new class of robots with Artificial Intelligence mixed with traditional control theory. I grew up in Philadelphia and enjoy playing sports.

Description of Possible Projects:

1. Fabrication of various different shapes of soft robotic actuators
2. Design and Fabrication of a fully operational waterproof miniature solenoid valve.
3. Development of a data collection software for robot that captures images and sensor data. Would use Raspberry Pi.

Desired Skills/Time Commitment:
-experience with python
-experience with CAD design programs such as solidworks
-experience soldering
-experience using linux.


Mark Easley (Texas Instruments)
Mark Easley is part of the team behind the TI University Program, which is committed to engineering student success and supporting institutions of higher learning that will train the next generation of makers and creators. His daily tasks include supporting universities with electrical and computer engineering curriculum enhancements, courseware support, and electronics workshops to improve student engagement and outcomes. He is also interested in enhancing industry partnerships and semiconductor / IoT research activities and keeping tabs on the accelerating trend of online and accessible technical education through Massively Open Online Classes (MOOCs). He is focusing on assisting faculty with preparing students to enter industry with effective knowledge in Design, System, Power, and Connectivity. His background at TI includes product and software development, account management, business development, web marketing, tutorial writing, demo creation, outbound marketing content creation, and community engagement.


Description of Possible Projects:
Robotics project using TI-RSLK MAX. www.ti.com/rslk


Desired Skills/Time Commitment:

ECE students with interest in robotics. Programming experience a plus.