Undergraduate Research

Overview | Recent projects | How to get involved | Science and Engineering Scholars

Many undergraduate students participate in research, an exciting way to get directly involved with developments at the forefront of the civil engineering profession. The experience can provide excellent preparation for graduate school, offer an opportunity to work closely with a faculty advisor, and allow the student to complete a senior thesis, one of the requirements of graduating with a Degree with Distinction.


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Student: Shellie deMoss and Steven Blackburn
Faculty: Pei Chiu and Yan Jin
Project description: This study of drinking water technology led to the discovery of a highly reactive iron based method of water purification. This nonchlorine-based solution is effective against microorganisms and viruses. Their research has been named one of the seven top innovations by NASA's Tech Briefs publication.

See environmental engineering undergraduate research for more examples of undergraduate research in that area.

Student: Anthony Manzella
Faculty: Sue McNeil
Project description: Tony developed a Matlab-based, agent-based model of the asset management decision making process for pavements. In cooperation with undergraduates and a faculty member at Lafayette College, Tony presented papers at the ASCE conference on Computing in Civil Engineering in Pittsburgh (2007) and the International Conference on Managing Pavement Assets in Calgary (2008).

Student: Betsy Hicks
Faculty: Jack A. Puleo
Project description: This study focused on continuing development of a resistivity-based bedload profiler. Betsy assisted in sensor fabrication, calibration and testing in a re-circulating tank and the wave flume, programming data loggers, ingesting data into Matlab, and producing plots.

Student: Jake Voorhees
Faculty: Jack A. Puleo
Project description: The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Delaware maintains a “Smart Bridge” containing over 60 strain gages and other sensors to investigate structural performance. This project will extend the study by including a video system to relate the high strain rates to traffic type. In addition, vehicle speed, vehicle length and following distance are of interest for automated systems. Jake is responsible for equipment purchase, fabrication, lens calibration, field deployment, surveying, geometrical field calibrations and writing algorithms to automatically extract vehicle speed, vehicle length and vehicle separation from pixel time stack data.


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Undergraduate Research Program(URP) for advice about how to approach a faculty member about research, and for a list of current projects in search of student research assistants. On the URP website, go to Faculty Projects -> Project Listings, then look under College of Engineering -> Civil and Environmental Engineering for offerings in the CEE department in particular.


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The Science and Engineering Scholars program offers selected students in-depth research apprenticeships in civil engineering, environmental engineering, and other fields. Each Scholar receives a $3,000 stipend and a $500 summer housing allowance. Students serve a 10-week full-time research apprenticeship to a faculty member during the summer between the sophomore and junior years. They continue as research assistants during the junior year, usually in the Winter Session. Research during the academic year may be counted as one technical elective course or one elective course in the major. For more information, see Science and Engineering Scholars.


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The University of Delaware University Transportation Center provides support for Undergraduate research related to transportation corridors. For more information see UTC.


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The Delaware Water Resources Center offers Undergraduate Internships in Water Resources, which provide a great opportunity for students to become directly involved in research that addresses water resource-related problems in Delaware and the mid-Atlantic region. A DWRC intern will receive up to $3,500 for his or her work and is required to submit a final report and present a poster in the following spring. To apply, students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a faculty advisor. For more information, see DWRC Undergraduate Internships in Water Resources.


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The RISE program can help minority students interested in undergraduate research. See RISE for more information.

For more information, see Undergraduate Research Program.

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