ARL honors its 2013 summer students at symposium held at APG

September 23, 2013

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory held its 2013 summer student symposium at Aberdeen Proving Ground in August.

Hosted by Dr. Thomas P. Russell, director of ARL, the annual event is a program focusing on undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in technical fields with participation in various summer research activities. The symposium recognizes exceptional achievements made by students and their mentors.

The purpose of the ARL summer student symposium is to cultivate tomorrow's leaders in science and technology. The program enables students learning how to conduct, present and defend their research in an ethical manner. It also provides opportunity for ARL researchers to assess the technical proficiency of the student workforce.

The student presentations were judged by Russell as well as ARL's Fellows to include: Dr. Jan Andzelm, Dr. K.K. Choi, Dr. Datta Dandekar, Dr. Brad Forch, Dr. Piotr Franaszczuk, Dr. Richard Jow, Dr. Shashi Karna, Dr. Joe Mait, Dr. Jim McCauley (retired), Dr. Rose Pesce-Rodriguez, Dr. John Powell, Dr. Betsy Rice, Dr. Paul Shen and Dr. Michael Wraback. Awards were presented to first through third place winners in both undergraduate and graduate categories, with first place winners receiving $500, second place $300 and third place winners receiving $200.

Top honors for the undergraduate presentations was awarded to Alexandria Will-Cole, Weapons and Material Research Directorate, who won first place for her presentation on "Material Characterization and Mechanical Properties of Ultrafine-Grain Tungsten-Based Alloys." David Slayback, Human Research and Engineering Directorate, took second place for his presentation on "DETECT Toolkit Expansion: Artifact Detection in Unlabeled Data through Active Transfer Learning." Emily Wickner, Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate, took third place on her presentation and work on "Soft-Ionization Study of Anion Solvation in Lithium-Ion Electrolyte Solutions."

David Slayback, who began participating in ARL student programs at an early age, provided the following perspective, "Programs like GEMS [Gains in the Education of Math and Science], SEAP [Science Engineering Appreciation Program], and CQL [College Qualified Leaders] are a huge boon for students, because they allow us to actually experience what being a researcher is like instead of being given vague suggestions as to how labs work."

He added that the summer student program was "infinitely more helpful" than whatever knowledge he could glean from basic lab courses and advisers in college, let alone what he could get out of the "limited resources" in grade school.

Kimberly Zeigler, WMRD, was awarded first place in the graduate level presentations for "Development of an Anatomically-Accurate Finite Element Model for the Human Eye for Blast Related Fluid-Structure Interaction Studies;" Colin Donahue, from the Vehicle Technology Directorate, received second place for "Pattern Recognition with a Liquid Machine Circuit;" and third place was awarded to Jason Marshall, Computational and Informational Sciences Directorate, for his work on "Analysis of Atomistic Defects in Materials with Complex Lattices using Non-Local Quasicontinuum Method."

Whether or not students received one of the top three places in either category, they we excited to share their thoughts about the program.

"The ARL summer student program was a wonderful opportunity to explore a new context of human neuroscience research," said graduate presenter Matt Tenan from HRED. "Nowhere else do you get to see cutting edge technology being developed and explore how this impacts the Soldier."

The mentors were equally excited to see their mentees present the research they worked on during the summer.

Dr. Christopher Hoppel, WMRD, mentor to first place graduate presenter Zeigler said, "This summer we had excellent collaboration between our summer students, ARL researchers and several guest researchers, which benefited everyone involved."

This was the first summer student symposium under the direction of the lab's director.

"It was refreshing to see all of the high-quality students we have here at ARL doing work," said Russell. "I was very impressed by the level of work and the quality of the presentations."

His praises were echoed by former ARL Fellow Jim McCauley who recently retired from WMRD earlier this year.

"I am always energized and enthused by the students and how well they do with their presentations each year," said McCauley. "They were amazing! The passion and the energy is all there across the board. The resulting factor is all positive because this is good stuff."

With the experience having left such a positive impression, Russell looks forward to next year's symposium and anticipates, "broader participation by the lab to include poster sessions from all the students to provide the opportunity to present their work across ARL."

He went on to add, "every day at ARL has been a great day, but this was the best Army day yet."


Last Update / Reviewed: September 23, 2013