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Shaping the Undergraduate Mind through Research

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2017 ASEE Mid Atlantic Section Spring Conference


Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland

Publication Date

April 7, 2017

Start Date

April 7, 2017

End Date

April 8, 2017

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Brianna Lawton Morgan State University

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Brianna Lawton is a senior civil engineering major at Morgan State University who is not only an avid undergraduate researcher but has had various internships, one being with HDR Inc. while also serving her community on and off campus. She now sits as the President of Morgan's chapter of Chi Epsilon, the notable civil engineering honor society, while also mentoring young middle and high school students under the VEX Robotics program. After graduation, Brianna plans to continue her academic studies in transportation engineering to earn a Master's and eventually a Ph.D. She stated that conducting undergraduate research has opened her eyes to so many possibilities of what she could do with her future.

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Oludare Adegbola Owolabi P.E. Morgan State University

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Dr. Oludare Owolabi, a professional engineer in Maryland, joined the Morgan State University faculty in 2010. He is the assistant director of the Center for Advanced Transportation and Infrastructure Engineering Research (CATIER) at Morgan State University and the director of the Civil Engineering Undergraduate Laboratory. He has over eighteen years of experience in practicing, teaching and research in civil engineering. His academic background and professional skills allows him to teach a range of courses across three different departments in the school of engineering. This is a rare and uncommon achievement.
Within his short time at Morgan, he has made contributions in teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses. He has been uniquely credited for his inspirational mentoring activities and educating underrepresented minority students. Through his teaching and mentoring at Morgan State University he plays a critical role in educating the next generation of underrepresented minority students, especially African-American civil engineering students.
He is also considered to be a paradigm of a modern engineer. He combines practical experience with advanced numerical analysis tools and knowledge of material constitutive relations. This is essential to address the challenges of advanced geotechnical and transportation research and development. He is an expert in advanced modeling and computational mechanics. His major areas of research interest centers on pavement engineering, sustainable infrastructure development, soil mechanics, physical and numerical modeling of soil structures, computational geo-mechanics, constitutive modeling, pavement design, characterization and prediction of behavior of pavement materials, linear and non-linear finite element applications in geotechnical engineering, geo-structural systems analysis, structural mechanics, sustainable infrastructure development, and material model development. He had been actively involved in planning, designing, supervising, and constructing many civil engineering projects, such as roads, storm drain systems, a $70 million water supply scheme which is comprised of treatment works, hydraulic mains, access roads, and auxiliary civil works. He had developed and optimized many highway design schemes and models. For example, his portfolio includes a cost-effective pavement design procedure based on a mechanistic approach, in contrast to popular empirical procedures. In addition, he had been equally engaged in the study of capacity loss and maintenance implications of local and state roads (a World Bank-sponsored project). He was the project manager of the design team that carried out numerical analyses to assess the impact of the new shaft and tunnel stub construction on existing London Underground Limited (LUL) structures as per the proposed alternative 3 design of the Green park Station Step access (SFA) Project in U. K. He was also the project manager of Category III design check for the Tottenham Court Road Tunnel Underground Station upgrade Project in UK.

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This paper describes the benefits and development of how undergraduate research propels undergraduate students and prepares them for the future in their respective field of study. The opportunity to conduct undergraduate research develops students’ technical writing skills, builds understanding of industry terminology and technology as well as efficiency of operating experimentation apparatuses. The paper further elaborates on the importance of incorporating undergraduate research to the curriculum as this will prepare students to be socially, critically, and professionally adequate as they confidently enter the engineering work force and/or pursue higher education. Undergraduate research not only adds a wealth of knowledge to the individual, but teaches patience, ethics, and discipline when applying processes and procedures and designing standards that must be upheld because of the responsibility as professionals to protect the well-being of human life. The above have been substantiated in the paper by the first author through her undergraduate research experience in geotechnical engineering. Lastly, incorporating undergraduate research into the curriculum will expand students’ network of professionals, consequently facilitating the connection of the classroom studies with the industry. This displays them with a broad prospective of topics, challenges, and innovative research that they can relate to and work to resolve.

Lawton, B., & Owolabi, O. A. (2017, April), Shaping the Undergraduate Mind through Research Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Mid Atlantic Section Spring Conference, Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--29266

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