Electrical engineering students earns spot in competitive research programs

Writer: Isabel A. Rodriguez

Five New Mexico State University engineering students have earned spots in nationally competitive research programs.

G. Jake Manning was selected to participate in the Army High Performance Computing Research Center’s 2013 Summer Institute at Stanford University. The highly competitive program is for undergraduates interested in computational science and engineering.

The institute’s objectives are to provide training and hands-on experience in the use of computational techniques for science and engineering students, and to prepare them for graduate studies. The program curriculum combines short courses in computational engineering methods with research experience working with one of the AHPCRC research groups at Stanford.

Manning anticipates graduating in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree.

“I will be working on high performance computing this summer,” he said. “I am very excited to get the opportunity to gain research experience and spend two months at Stanford.”

Joshua Michalenko is among four students from NMSU’s College of Engineering selected to participate in this summer’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.

REU supports active research participation by undergraduates and is funded by the National Science Foundation. The program engages students in research projects specifically designed for REU.

Michalenko will spend this summer at Penn State University working on research sponsored by the Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network REU program.

“As a kid, I was always fascinated by electronics and the newest technology out there,” said Michalenko of his decision to study electrical engineering. “I decided instead of just admiring it, I wanted to go out there and hopefully make something that one da will change the way we live.”

Michalenko anticipates graduating in spring 2015 with a bachelor’s degree. Afterwards, he said, he plans on attending graduate school.

“They have a really nice nanofabrication facility and [researchers] can actually build what they simulate or theorize on paper,” he said. “The project I am working on is evaluating a carbon sheet-like molecule, known as grapheme, in super-capacitors and nano-actuator applications.

“Capacitors are one of the three basic elements in electronic circuits,” he explained. “A super-capacitor can store a lot more energy than a traditional capacitor. What I mean by nano-actuator is that we can build very thin films of this material and by running a current through the material, we can make it actuate (move up or down).”

Also participating in NSF’s REU program is Jennifer Hu who will earn her bachelor’s degree in May 2016.

“My plan after graduation is to earn a master’s and doctoral degree. I want to wake up in the morning and be happy about it,” she said describing her dream job. “I decided to pursue electrical engineering because of my father’s work in electronics, specifically television repair. As a child, the circuitry looked dazzling and mysterious. As an adult, it’s still interesting to me.”

Hu is active in Eta Kappa Nu and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

She will spend the summer at the University of Notre Dame participating in the Experimental Research on Wireless Networking.

“My project involves offline social interactions and tablets,” she explained. “The goal is to see whether it’s possible to acquire speech data from the offline environment for an extended number of hours or days on a tablet. I’m researching the different emotional cues from people mostly from their pitch and intensity.

“This project originated from wanting to interpret offline and online interactions to be fake or genuine in the psychology field. I am most looking forward to creating meaningful research that I can be proud of, while becoming more acquainted with my mentor and colleagues in a new environmental setting.”

Francisco Sanchez plans to earn his bachelor’s degree in fall 2014.

“I plan to attend graduate school at a university in Texas in order to earn a master’s degree in power engineering,” he said. “My dream job is to work for a corporation associated with power, either in distribution or production.

Sanchez decided to study electrical engineering because of his passion for technology, science and mathematics.

He is a member of Eta Kappa Nu and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

Sanchez, who is a part of the first generation of his family to attend college, will spend his summer at Texas A&M’s Smart Energy and Smart Systems REU program.

“I will be focusing on research topics such as developing the next generation of algorithms, protocols and prototype technologies which will contribute to the advances in signal processing, computation, microelectronics and nanoscale device synthesis,” he said.

“I am looking forward to bettering myself as an electrical engineering student by working with faculty and other REU members on challenging topics.”

Cynthia Rojas will study at Penn State University. Rojas plans to major in mathematics and electrical engineering with a focus on power. She is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.


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