ARI Student Interns Present on Summer Projects


ARI Summer Interns


After a successful summer of working with and learning from ARI researchers, four of ARI’s summer student interns gave final presentations of their projects on Friday, August 11.

The students presented to a group of staff and researchers and answered questions about their work.

Two students, Ashley Tran and Josh Cook, worked with Dr. Ngoc Nguyen in the Materials and Manufacturing research group to investigate sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based materials.

Tran, a bioengineering undergraduate student, investigated how to mitigate plastic waste through sustainable biopolymer alternatives, such as lignin and cellulose. Using various processes, she developed a stable elastomer that could potentially be used one day to replace petroleum-based plastics.

Cook, a chemical engineering undergraduate, sought to improve the mechanical and chemical properties of balsa wood by introducing nitrile rubber into the wood to create a novel material that could be an alternative to various forms of plastic. He found that the properties of modified wood were comparable, and in some instances, superior to commercial plastics.

Arman Hadi, a mechanical engineering master’s student, worked with Dr. Eliezer Colina and Dr. Mohamed Aboukhatwa in the Algorithms and Software and Materials and Manufacturing groups, respectively, to use mathematical approaches to analyze thermal data of lasers used in additive manufacturing.

Manish Kumar, a master’s student in the Department of Statistics, worked with the Algorithms and Software group on a joint project with the UI Foundation. He said his biggest takeaway from his summer at ARI was learning how to work with real-world data, which needs to be prepared for analysis, unlike working with data in classes, where the preparatory steps are already complete.

The presentation session closed with Dr. Nguyen offering his appreciation for the students’ hard work throughout the summer and hopes that their paths would cross in the future as the students pursue careers in research.