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Forging a Sustainable Student Research Initiative

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Multidisiplinary Student Research Experiences

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.788.1 - 26.788.13



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Paper Authors


Tom A. Eppes University of Hartford

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Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Ph.D. Elec. Engr., University of Michigan
MSEE, BSEE, Texas A&M University

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Ivana Milanovic University of Hartford

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Prof. Milanovic is a full-time faculty member in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Hartford. Her area of expertise is thermo-fluids with research interests in vortical flows, computational fluid dynamics, multiphysics modeling, and collaborative learning strategies. Prof. Milanovic is a contributing author for more than 70 journal publications, NASA reports, conference papers and software releases. Dr. Milanovic is elected member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, and her honors include five NASA Faculty Fellowship Awards, The Bent Award for Scholarly Creativity, Award for Innovations in Teaching and Learning, and Outstanding Teacher Award of the University of Hartford.

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Forging a Sustainable Student Research InitiativeStudent participation in mentored research improves learning of engineering and scientificconcepts, increases interaction with faculty and industry sponsors, and provides opportunities forwork in emerging technology areas. Benefits accrue both to students who pursue a researchcareer and to those who enter applied fields by strengthening their ability to propose innovativesolutions. However, obtaining research funding is challenging in a teaching-oriented university,and in recent years, the competition has become even more intense. In some cases, externalsources, be it industry sponsors, private grantors, or governmental agencies have seen budgetsreduced while the quantity and quality of proposals have risen. Further complicating these effortsis a lack of experience on the part of most students both in identifying an appropriate statementof work, preparing a winning proposal, and performing the project successfully.This paper describes a strategy that has led to sustained funding for student research at theauthors’ institution. The approach focuses on developing advanced multidisciplinary modelingskills that are highly marketable to external entities and helpful in strengthening proposalstargeting internal sources. The key technical components are modeling skills taught in aCOMSOL-based course developed four years ago. Working with faculty, a number of studentshave been awarded research funding. On a curricular level, the course’s learning outcomes havebecome a vital contributor to both the ABET and regional accreditation processes in severalengineering programs. The paper discusses the course structure and recent experiences inobtaining awards.

Eppes, T. A., & Milanovic, I. (2015, June), Forging a Sustainable Student Research Initiative Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24125

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