Mentors

Why become a PURE Mentor?

Application for graduate students interested in becoming mentors for Spring 2022:  Apply!

The currently listed mentors are for the Spring 2022 semester.

MentorDescription
Amir Malvandi (Agricultural and Biological Engineering)I am working on a novel ultrasonic equipment for non-thermal dehydration of biomaterials. We are going to develop a smart system for non-destructive and rapid measurements of physical and chemical properties of materials during drying and optimize the process using artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. The research involves computer vision, machine learning, optimization and computational fluid mechanics and heat transfer.

Description of Possible Projects:
1. Using lab-view (or Arduino) for data collection and smart control of developed ultrasonic dryer
2. Learning design of experiment and optimization using response surface method (RSM)
3. Linear and nonlinear regression, data visualization and introduction to Matlab/Python
4. Multi-objective optimization

Desired Skills and Time Commitment for Applicants:
WORD, EXCEL, familiar with any programming language (preferred), open to learn new concepts
Tejaswin Parthasarathy (Mechanical Science and Engineering)
I am a final year PhD student. My research focuses on deploying numerical tools for design of engineering applications in the realm of inertial micro-fluidics, soft-robotics and their flow–structure interaction. These tools target engineering applications in medicine, manufacturing and robotics, from harnessing non-linear viscous streaming effects for inertial particle manipulation within fluidic systems to understanding terrestrial locomotory behaviors of snakes for bio-inspired control and maneuverability strategies for slender soft-robots. Towards this goal, I carry out research in Mattia Gazzola's lab, at the intersection of continuum mechanics, theoretical modeling, numerical algorithms, high-performance computing, software-at-scale and optimization/learning techniques.


Description of Possible Projects:
My research focuses on developing theory and simulations for resolving fluid and soft-robotic dynamics and their flow–structure interaction, and providing tools for broader use by the scientific and engineering community. In line with this focus, I will mentor at least TWO students as a team. The team will work on the same project, which I describe below.

The project involves deploying Python bindings to our open-source C++ simulation software Elastica++ and packaging the resulting library into a neat, cross-platform, quickly deployable module. Towards this, we have three milestones:
1. Package our C++ code to be redistributable, and test it. Most of the infrastructure needed for this step is already complete, as this milestone is intended to warm up the student towards the project. This milestone involves learning some CMake, which can be picked up relatively quickly
2. Develop and test python bindings for select parts of our simulation code. This milestone involves developing a bit of C++ and Python, using Pybind as the intermediate layer. These skills can be picked up and a lot of example codes are already available in our code-base, to help the student get started
3. Neatly package and test the resulting hybrid python–C++ code, so that scientists/engineers can install it with a one-line command

By the end of the semester, students would have:
1. Notable contributions to the open-source Elastica++ software ecosystem, which opens up future employment opportunities in simulations-based research/programming/software engineering
2. A strong recommendation/referral from my side (I am moving into the tech industry soon, so you have an inside man)
3. Seen their efforts pay off immediately, as scientists/engineers already use this package in their everyday workflow. This involves simulations from laptops to supercomputing clusters
4. Learn industry-standard tools that are used at scale across domains from medicine to manufacturing


Desired Skills/Time Commitment:
Some programming skills are necessary, but the language in which you programmed does NOT matter. The is mainly because students will learn most of the skills as the project progresses---hence the student must be willing to program, explore and build software. The skills that the students will learn by the end of the semester are:

1) Concepts of build systems and packaging
2) Scientific computing and simulations
3) C++ programming language and Pybind11
4) Python programming language

Time commitment:
I have been a PURE mentor in the past semester, so I understand you have commitments. The schedule will then revolve around you. So time commitment is flexible and depends on the initiative of the student. However, I estimate it could be anywhere between 3--6 hours per week. I also expect the hours to be longer at the start of the semester (when the student is warming up).
Xiaojuan Wang (Agricultural and Biological Engineering)
I am working on a USDA project about production of fortified dried fruits. We use a nonthermal method to remove water content from food material and impregnate micronutrients in the product to improve its flavor and nutrition property.

Description of Possible Projects:
1. a review of evaluating dehydrated food product
2. the mass transfer study during dehydration process

Desired Skills/Time Commitment:
Scientific writing; Desire to learn and punctuality
Yogi Patel (Aerospace Engineering)Yogi Patel is a 2nd year Ph.D. in the Aerospace Engineering department. His research area is Applied Aerodynamics. He has served as a research mentor at UIUC over past 1 year working on several projects.

Description of Possible Projects:
Project 1)
People often talk about making drones, ever wondered how can we make them more efficient? Efficient in the sense of improving its load-carrying capacity. The fundamental physics behind drones isn't limited by just learning electrical connections, but there is more so involved in the rotor blades that we use. The rotor blade geometry in terms of local blade pitch angle and its chord length are important governing parameters that decide the overall load-carrying capacity and the required battery power.

This project will focus initially on learning the fundamental physics of propeller theory and in the later stage, we will do a parametric study of the rotor blade geometry. Here parametric study is defined as understanding the efficiency of the drones by changing the governing parameters like the local blade pitch angle and chord length. We will build a simple experiment of having a thrust stand, which can measure the thrust and torque required by the given blade geometry. Students will also gain experience in 3D printing and other experimental skills in its vicinity.

Project 2)

Windtunnel is often used to get the aerodynamics performance of any given vehicle geometry. In the aerospace community, researchers use wind tunnels at the validation stage to get experimental data. This project will focus on building a small prototype of the subsonic wind tunnel. At a later stage, we will perform a simple experiment of oil flow visualization on a delta wing to understand the flow behavior on the wing.

Desired Skills/Time Commitment:
The students in this program are mainly first and second year undergraduates. You may suggest advanced classes to give an idea of what your research involves, but do not require students to have taken any classes at the 300 or 400 level. Do NOT ask applicants to email you directly - PURE will send you a list of applications that you will then choose from.
Desired skill in the candidate

- Students are expected to know the basic high school physics and math principles.
- Students should be interested in performing experimental work.
- The expected time commitment per week is approx 5-6 hours.