For third year, summer programs pair education projects with research

In a continuation of its exchange programs, the Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence (CRC) facilitated exchanges between students, faculty and research projects this past summer.

As part of the SUMmer Research Experience (SUMREX) Program, Bryan Acevedo-Marerro and Jorge Santiago-Hernández, civil engineering undergraduate students at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM) were hosted by PI Dr. Dan Cox of Oregon State University. Additionally, DaChawn Kincaid, a rising junior at Tougaloo College, traveled to Old Dominion University to work with co-PI Dr. Wie Yusuf.

Through SUMREX, CRC Education & Workforce Development partners arrange for one or more students to visit the home institution of participating CRC Research PIs for a summer research internship lasting between six and 10 weeks. Key to the program’s success is making the best match between the student interns and the research PIs, so that the students have the opportunity to become fully immersed in a research project.

CRC researchers from Oregon State University, along with OSU students and University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez students taking part in the SUMREX exchange program, test the strength of a model structure in the OH Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory in the summer of 2018.
CRC researchers from Oregon State University, along with OSU students and University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez students taking part in the SUMREX exchange program, test the strength of a model structure in the OH Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory in the summer of 2018.

Acevedo-Marrero and Santiago-Hernández worked with Dr. Cox to build a 1:6 scale house for use in OSU’s wave lab, where researchers are trying to develop a more accurate method of creating damage and loss estimates for structures impacted by overland waves. The students performed quality control on data from the wave lab tests and developed a digital house model to test their conclusions.

Santiago-Hernández, a rising senior, said the biggest challenge of the work was to scale a structure so the miniature version behaves like a full-size building. The work will help researchers better design coastal structures through an understanding of “wave load conditions,” creating more resilient coastal communities.

“This experience definitely encourages me to pursue graduate studies in the field of coastal engineering, because coming from an island you know how this field can really make a positive impact on people,” he said.

Acevedo-Marrero, who is entering his fifth year at UPRM, said the work also included running data quality checks and comparing results from the wave lab to the expected response from a real home under similar conditions.

“This research was aligned to a civil engineer’s interest, which is the understanding of the structure behavior to eventually design and build resilient infrastructures,” he said. “This internship helped me to explore more about grad school and how this can expand my opportunities in civil engineering.”

SUMREX students worked on the wave lab project with OSU graduate students Jason Burke and Matt Karny.

Defining resilience

At ODU, Kincaid – a junior sociology major at Tougaloo College who is enrolled in a minor in Disaster Coastal Studies program led by PI Dr. Meherun Laiju – worked with ODU co-PIs Dr. Wie Yusuf and Dr. Joshua Behr.

Kincaid made several blog posts on ODU’s CRC project updates website. He reviewed published articles and other sources to explore the vast world of resilience and developed a presentation summarizing his research from the summer. Kincaid focused on the broad definition of resilience, including psychological, cultural, ecological, cyber and coastal resilience aspects.