On Wednesday, March 4, eight WVU Tech students joined lawmakers and more than 100 student exhibitors to display and discuss ongoing research projects at the Capitol during the 12th annual Undergraduate Research Day.
Among the exhibitors were WVU Tech mechanical engineering students Kaylah Bovard and Wyatt McClead, who shared their design work for a custom multi-speed transmission to be incorporated into this year’s Society of Automotive Engineers Baja-style racing buggy. Having relied on a single speed transmission in previous years, the group wanted to develop a more efficient, compact transmission that would give them more control over the vehicle.
“We started back in the fall and all of last semester was spent on the design. We had to consider everything from the type of gearing and number of gears to the shifting mechanism and size of the transmission,” said Bovard. “This semester, we performed a finite element analysis and the transmission is currently being manufactured.”
The team will put the new transmission to the test next month in the Baja SAE series hosted in Auburn, Alabama.
On the renewable energy front, mechanical engineering major Tavon Johnson shared a project that aims to determine the effectiveness of vertical axis wind turbines in southern West Virginia. The project starts close to home, where students are in the process of installing a vertical axis wind turbine and a weather station on the roof of the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences building in Montgomery.
“Renewable energy is in the forefront of the news, so the best way to begin investigating how to go down that road is through research and interacting with those who vote on legislation that determines research funding. If they are able to actually see what students are producing and what the innovators of tomorrow are thinking of, I believe that’s the best way to move forward as a country, and I think that starts right here at the Capitol,” Johnson said.
Dr. Zeljko Torbica, Dean of the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences, said the event is well-aligned with WVU Tech’s focus on research activities.
“One of our chief goals is to provide as many opportunities as possible for undergraduate students to engage in research projects. A number of our courses emphasize heavy involvement in research-oriented activities and we think that is one of the distinguishing characteristics of our programs,” Torbica said.
For Dr. Farshid Zabihian, WVU Tech professor of mechanical engineering and co-advisor on the projects shown at Wednesday’s event, Undergraduate Research Day is also a chance to develop professionally.
“Giving students a chance to show their hard work gives students some motivation to be recognized. Being in the state capital and presenting their work to legislators and other student researchers gives them some self-confidence and confirms for them that what they’re doing is worthwhile. It is practice that will help them better communicate in interviews and throughout their careers,” Zabihian said.
WVU Tech is proud of the students selected to share their work in Charleston and would like to congratulate Alex Perry, Brett Floyd, Corey Hall, Kaylah Bovard, Raul Torres, Sebastian Cousin, Tavon Johnson and Wyatt McClead.
Check out photos from Undergraduate Research Day on Flickr.