REU Site: Multifunctional Materials
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This renewal Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site at Texas A&M University (TAMU)offers research experiences on various aspects of multifunctional materials, or materials which combine two or more important properties (for example, strength and electrical energy storage capacity) to diverse and talented cohorts of students particularly from predominantly undergraduate and minority serving institutions in Texas and across the country. There is extensive materials research activity in the southwestern US, which serves exponentially growing sectors in energy, aerospace, electronics and health; however, materials research and education efforts are fragmented, and many undergraduates do not know what materials science is. Advances in materials, particularly multifunctional materials are critical to addressing the country''s most challenging problems in energy and health. The research products will benefit society broadly and the project will help to recruit more students into materials science and engineering, an area where an increased and more diverse workforce is urgently needed.The objectives of this 10 week summer, REU site are: 1. Recruit ten undergraduate participants with majors in STEM disciplines per year, focusing particularly on predominantly undergraduate and minority serving institutions in Texas, and building on existing connections with faculty at those institutions. 2. Engage undergraduate participants in high quality research experiences related to multifunctional materials, building their understanding of the research process, increasing their confidence in their ability to do research, and stimulating their interest in pursuing careers in materials science and engineering. 3. Through a rigorous assessment and student tracking process, evaluate the impact of the REU site on student participants'' subsequent education and career choices, and evaluate the effectiveness of specific components of the research experience, thus helping to improve future REU efforts. The research activities will focus on multiscale experiments and modeling of material systems that exhibit multifunctional properties. The experimental activities will include fabrication and characterization of shape memory alloys, 2-D materials, MAX Phases, fibers and polymers, as well as design and testing of carbon nanofiber devices, carbon nanosponges, alternative energy storage device materials, Layer-by-Layer polymer assemblies, multifunctional coatings, and nastic material systems. The modeling activities will include atomistic simulations, continuum scale constitutive modeling, statistical materials discovery methods, materials informatics and machine learning methodologies, finite element based micromechanics, and macroscopic finite element modeling of applications. Students will learn how research is conducted, develop laboratory and modeling skills, and learn how to conduct design, analysis, testing and optimization of multifunctional materials and components. The students will collaborate with a faculty research mentor from the multidisciplinary Department of Materials Science and Engineering along with a trained graduate student mentor. They also will participate in a professional development program that includes training in communications and research methods skills, graduate school information sessions, and optional field trips and tours. The students are provided with opportunities to present their research results in a poster symposium held at the end of the summer. The program will collaborate closely with TAMU''s AGEP-T program and LSAMP program as part of comprehensive recruitment plan to ensure a diverse and talented applicant pool for the REU Site.This site is supported by the Department of Defense in partnership with the NSF REU program.This award reflects NSF''s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation''s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.