Pavlis Honors College

Research from the College of Engineering

Undergraduate research performed by students in the Michigan Tech College of Engineering, separated by major.

Biomedical Engineering

Play Durotactic Migration of Cancer Cells on Engineered Scaffolds video
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Durotactic Migration of Cancer Cells on Engineered Scaffolds

iophysical cues are an important focus of study in the proliferation, viability and metastatic behavior of cancerous cells. The rigidity, or stiffness of the extracellular matrix in the cancer cell microenvironment can affect the migration [1]. Here the role of mechanical stiffness together with a known topography of acellular synthetic scaffolds on cell proliferation, migration, and tumor progression for wound healing and cancer research is presented. Since, 3D-cultures offer advantages over 2D culture in closely mimicking the microenvironment of a cancer tumor, in vitro study of cell-cell and ECM interactions in conditions similar to the tumor environment is made possible. 

Presented by Mitchell Connon, junior majoring in biomedical engineering

Play Evaluating Novel Biodegradable Stent Materials at a 1-Month Time Point video
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Evaluating Novel Biodegradable Stent Materials at a 1-Month Time Point

Conventional metal stents remain in a treated artery for the lifetime of the patient.  The permanent presence of foreign material is associated with harmful side effects. Bioresorbable stents that provide mechanical support during the healing phase and then harmlessly degrade may avoid the long term side effects. The goal of this study is to evaluate the biological and immunological response to the implantation of different bioresorbable zinc alloy compositions for stenting.
Presented by  Lea Morath, senior majoring in biomedical engineering

Play Osteoconductive Electrospun PCL β-TCP Nanofibers video
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Osteoconductive Electrospun PCL β-TCP Nanofibers

Electrospun nanofiber scaffolds made of biodegradable materials have found application as bone scaffolds facilitating bone healing. Polycaprolactone (PCL) is a commonly used polymer in nanofiber scaffolds. Osteogenic inorganic materials such as betatricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) increase osteoconductivity and aid proliferation of bone cells. [1] [2] [3] Through this research I sought to understand cell adhesion, proliferation, and alignment on PCL β-TCP scaffolds and the parameters required to produce bone healing scaffolds. 

Presented by Emily Nelson, junior majoring in biomedical engineering

Play Fibrin-Based Materials for the Modulation of Matrix Metalloproteinases in Tendon Repair video
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Fibrin-Based Materials for the Modulation of Matrix Metalloproteinases in Tendon Repair

In tendon injury repair, no current therapies aim to restore the extracellular matrix (ECM) structure-function balance. Our lab has developed injectable, adhesive PEG-fibrinogen hydrogels that incorporate S-Nitroso-N-acetyl-Penicillamine (SNAP)-fibrin microparticles with the goal of aiding in soft tissue wound repair through the therapeutic exogenous delivery of nitric oxide (NO), which is known to influence ECM modulation through regulation of matrix metalloproteases (MMPs). MMP activity is also known to be affected by fibrin. In a recent study, our lab observed that the fibrin-degradation products (FDPs) from the microparticles can significantly regulate MMP activation and to modulate ECM during tendon healing.

Presented by Jordan Zais, junior majoring in biomedical engineering

Play Mechanochemical Comparison Between Hydrogel and Silicone Gel Used for Studying Stiffness Sensing by Adherent Cells video
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Mechanochemical Comparison Between Hydrogel and Silicone Gel Used for Studying Stiffness Sensing by Adherent Cells

Extracellular matrix (ECM) stiffness induces differences in cell spreading via sensing by cell-ECM (extracellular matrix) adhesions. Cells’ increasing spreading in response to increasing stiffness has been established based on studies using hydrogels such as polyacrylamide gel. However, on the high refractive-index silicone gel, referred to as Qgel, such a cell spreading phenotype has not been recapitulated. Cells on the soft Qgel have still shown a large spread area with also large traction. In this study, via characterization of both gel types, I provide evidence that the surface hydrophobicity of Qgel dominates cell response over the ECM stiffness.


Presented by Kathleen Heusser, sophomore majoring in biomedical engineering

Play Collagen V promotes cell contractility and adhesion compared to Collagen I video
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Collagen V promotes cell contractility and adhesion compared to Collagen I

Collagen is the primary structural protein in animals. Collagen types I and V are fibrilar types of collagen. Whereas collagen I is substantially more abundant, collagen V plays a regulatory role in the formation of collagen fibers. Cell adhesion on collagen V is under-studied to that on collagen I. One study has shown that fibroblasts cultured on collagen V detach from the substrate and ball up to forming a large clump. In contrast, cells cultured on collagen I show normal spreading and proliferation. I hypothesize that cell adhesion to collagen V increases cellular contractility via strong binding via its integrin-mediated adhesions.


Presented by Shaina Royer, senior majoring in biomedical engineering

Play Open Source Gentle Ventilation video
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Open Source Gentle Ventilation

When COVID-19 first hit, and hit hard, people began to panic and chaos ensued. Many people were getting sick and we were running low on medical devices. With the MTU Open Source Technology Research Lab, we thought about a few ways we could help as many people as possible. One idea was to create an open source gentle ventilation system for those who may not have the funds or access to hospital resources. This gentle ventilator could be created from common household items and a basic understanding of electronics, making it accessible to millions of people all over the world.


Presented by Nicki Gallup, senior majoring in biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering

Play FEM-based Force Reconstruction Method for Fast and Accurate Traction Force Microscopy Application video
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FEM-based Force Reconstruction Method for Fast and Accurate Traction Force Microscopy Application

Traction force microscopy (TFM) is a soft-gel-based assay used to measure the spatiotemporal distribution of the traction forces exerted by a living cell. TFM software uses the bead images, taken with and without cell presence, to calculate a displacement field then reconstructs traction out of the displacement. For the force reconstruction, a forward relationship between force and displacement needs to be established, for which the boundary element method (BEM) has been exploited by current force reconstruction methods. However, BEM usage is inherently limited to a flat, continuous, and elastic gel configuration. To extend the TFM’s application toward non-planar substrates, a novel algorithm using the Finite Element Method (FEM) was developed and compared with the existing methods for accurate traction estimations.


Presented by Samuel Haarman, senior majoring in biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering


Civil Engineering

Play Preliminary Trade-Offs from the Use of Styrene-Butadiene-Styrene (SBS) Modified Asphalt Binders in Asphalt Mixtures video
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Preliminary Trade-Offs from the Use of Styrene-Butadiene-Styrene (SBS) Modified Asphalt Binders in Asphalt Mixtures

The importance of this research has been developed by growing interest to understand the environmental impacts produced by the production of materials. Asphalt is one of the most abundant construction materials in the world which makes the significance of understanding its properties even greater. However, little is achieved by reducing initial environmental impacts if the performance life of the asphalt mixture is shortened. Using trade-off analysis may allow decision makers to confidently choose between the use of different materials and in what quantities in asphalt binders and mixtures. 

Presented by Erik Oshaben, senior majoring in civil engineering


Chemical Engineering

Play Optimization of Lignin Precipitation with Functional Group Control for Use in Bio-Based Polyurethane Foams video
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Optimization of Lignin Precipitation with Functional Group Control for Use in Bio-Based Polyurethane Foams

Lignin, an organic polymer, can be precipitated from black liquor, a byproduct of the pulp and paper industry. Lignin has the potential to replace petroleum-derived polymers in many applications, such as polyurethanes. In this project, lignin is demethylated during the precipitation process. This makes use of high pH conditions early in the process and is intended to increase the proportion of hydroxyl groups, thereby increasing lignin reactivity and integration into the polyurethane network. Using previously optimized precipitation conditions of a modified Ligno-Boost procedure, the resulting demethylated lignin can be used to create a broad range of sturdy bio foams.

Presented by Lauren Spahn, junior majoring in chemical engineering


Geology

Play The Exhumation History of the Bell Creek Batholith video
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The Exhumation History of the Bell Creek Batholith

Our understanding of the geologic history of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is limited because the rocks range in age from ~2.6 to ~1.0 billion years old and have been modified by multiple plate tectonic events. However, the magma produced throughout this time froze within the Earth and still captures the crustal evolution. The Bell Creek Batholith, a large ‘frozen magma reservoir,’ contains a number of magma injections that record the progressive exhumation of crust. In this study, we examined the pressure-temperature evolution of these magmas through time to determine changing rates of crustal evolution related to specific tectonic events.


Presented by Emilie Pray, senior majoring in geology


Mechanical Engineering

Play Volumetric Segmentation of the Aorta from cardiac Computed Tomography scans using Deep Learning video
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Volumetric Segmentation of the Aorta from cardiac Computed Tomography scans using Deep Learning

The detection and segmentation of the Aorta from a computed tomography (CT) image is a time consuming task when done manually with the average duration being approximately 30 minutes. This is far too much time when dealing with high mortality conditions such as Aortic Dissection and Malperfusion Syndrome. For this reason, an automated computational method is needed to accelerate the segmentation of the Aorta from CT scans. The primary aim of this project is to develop a computer program that has the ability to ingest full CT scans and return the Aortic volume in voxel form.


Presented by Drew Pienta, senior majoring in mechanical engineering

Play Experimental characterization of photo-sensitive polymers to optimize UV usage parameters video
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Experimental characterization of photo-sensitive polymers to optimize UV usage parameters

This research describes the current experimental work and corresponding theory to characterize the light and heat absorption surface localization effects during stereolithographic curing processes. Stereolithographic curing is a common practice of additive manufacturing utilized to prototype and manufacture complex geometries in a short time frame and at low cost via the crosslinking of liquid monomers under the exposure of UV radiation. Radiative energy transfer is the primary energy source to initiate crosslinking. The propagating UV light reflects during the curing process which creates an uneven radiative energy transfer in the sample and in turn a variation of mechanical properties of the final cured product. 

Presented by Joseph Van Linn, senior majoring in mechanical engineering

Play Development of Furuta Inverted Pendulum Test Rig for Testing of Motor Dynamics and Capabilities video
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Development of Furuta Inverted Pendulum Test Rig for Testing of Motor Dynamics and Capabilities

Biomimetics is a popular topic in the robotics world due to the potential solutions that varying methods of mobility can give. Emulations and combinations of existing natural systems have been found to increase mobility and efficiency in related terrain. However, due to the complex dynamics of these systems, thorough dynamic evaluations of actuators are crucial to attaining the desired result. This study aims to gain information on motor dynamics for future implementation of hip and/or knee actuators in wheeled legs. This is achieved through control theory, simulation, integration of control hardware with actuators, and the validation of a desired test.

Presented by Justin Henderson, senior majoring in mechanical engineering

Play Optimization of Wave Energy Converters Through Neural Networks video
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Optimization of Wave Energy Converters Through Neural Networks

Wave energy converters (WECs) are devices that convert the kinetic energy available in large bodies of water into useful electrical energy. This conversion occurs when there is relative motion between the drag plate and buoy component of the WEC. Though most of this energy is stored, a control strategy can be implemented to release small amounts of energy back into the generator at opportune times to maximize energy extraction. A crucial component in this control strategy is the ability to predict future excitation force. This research aimed to use a neural network implementation to predict these forces.

Presented by Morgan Kline, senior majoring in mechanical engineering

Play Evaporation Rates on Surface of Sessile Droplet on an Incline video
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Evaporation Rates on Surface of Sessile Droplet on an Incline

When spilled coffee dries on a surface, the particles contained in the droplet form a ring shape on the surface. This is an example of the coffee ring effect, where fluid within the droplet flows outward radially to the edge. Beyond the domain of drying coffee, a physical understanding of the pattern of particle flow can be beneficial for micro/nano-scale manufacturing and inexpensive medical diagnoses using blood. In order to determine how the fluid flows inside the droplet, we must first derive an analytical solution for evaporation rates over the surface of the droplet.

Presented by Erik Pitcher, senior majoring in mechanical engineering and applied/computational mechanics