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UNH Showcases Student Research and Development Projects

Release Date:
6/4/2012 9:00 AM
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University of New Haven: Quadrotor Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Quadrotor unmanned aerial vehicle

Hands-on Research Challenges Students to Apply What They Have Learned

Instead of relying on the marketplace to develop an application for her smart phone, Amber Higgins ’12 took matters into her own hands. As part of her engineering senior design project she designed an application to set the settings on her oven at home directly from her phone.

“I thought it would be neat to be able to control a device from an app that I created,” Higgins said. “I chose to control an oven because it’s a common device that makes sense to use for an application like this.”

 
Amber Higgins ’12 (right) shares her findings as part of the first Senior Design Expo.

Amber Higgins ’12 (right) shares her findings as part of the first Senior Design Expo.

Higgins will be able to apply what she’s learned as she begins her career working in research and development at Covidien, where she will focus on wireless technology applications.

“I think because my project was a very practical application, it will help me immensely in my career,” she said.

Higgins’s work was showcased at the first Tagliatela College of Engineering Senior Design Expo held at the end of the spring semester. She was awarded third prize out of the nearly 75 students who presented their projects, some of which were sponsored by local companies.

One group created plans to redesign the problematic intersection near campus at the juncture at Routes 1 and 122, while another team designed a pedestrian bridge to cross Boston Post Road near the main entrance to campus.

Stephen Hegedus, Jane Schwab and Matt Zwilling continued work on UNH’s Supermileage car, which has reached 700 miles per gallon and has competed in national competitions. They continued to refine the front-end design, focus on driver safety and implement an electric starter.

The team also was responsible for managing a group of students who contributed to the project, communicating with the team’s sponsors, managing the budget and preparing a group of students to take over the project next year.

“The Supermileage project was a unique combination of engineering, management and manufacturing activities, said Zwilling. “In a competitive job market, this broad range of experience is important, as employers are looking for people who can perform a wide array of duties.”

Challenged to Excel

Seniors in UNH’s Honors Program also completed intensive research as part of their thesis projects that covered a wide range of topics.

 Annie Sheerin ’12 (left), a psychology major, explored the effect of stress on memory. She designed a study in which she showed 66 participants a list of randomly mixed neutral, positive and negative words. Individuals were presented with a no-stress, low-stress or high-stress environment and then asked to recall the words they remembered from the original list. Her research confirmed that people are more likely to remember “neutral” words as opposed to emotional ones after facing a stressful experience. The study did not support her hypothesis that those in the high-stress group would recall fewer words than the lower-stress group.

Sheerin’s findings were accepted to be presented at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention later this summer.

This fall, Sheerin will begin pursuing a master’s degree in social work at Rutgers. Her goal is to earn a Ph.D. and work in the field of health psychology. She hopes to eventually work with kids in a hospital or outpatient center who are suffering from chronic illnesses.

“Had I not joined the Honors Program, I don’t think I would have challenged myself as much as I have throughout my four years,” she said.

 Holly Stradczuk ’12 (left), a computer science major, examined the various psychological disorders that computer hackers are most commonly diagnosed with, such as antisocial personality disorder schizophrenia and manic depression. In surveys, hackers said they perform the illegal actions because they believe they won’t be caught or they feel they have an altruistic justification.

“A project that is this intensive and involving so many elements will help me greatly in a future career by helping my with my time management skills,” said Stradczuk, who will begin her career as an application developer at Northeast Utilities. “Having to balance many different elements in order to complete this project is similar to what I can anticipate in my career.”

Another honors student, John Capozzo ’12, was chosen by the Tagliatela College of Engineering to be UNH’s representative at College Academic Day at the Capitol in Hartford this spring. As part of his capstone project, he worked with the Alumni Association to develop plans to renovate the German Club Pavilion Area on campus.