Research

Site Dublin, Ireland
Student Researcher Erica Pepitone
Mentor Maud Ellmann
Title  
Research Description

Over the course of the semester, this project examined various poets from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland through history and literary criticism, focusing in the Modern period through the contemporary era. The final paper connected various themes that linked the different writers, specifically the role of silence in treatment of the Famine and Diaspora, the death of the Irish language, and the Northern Irish Troubles.

Site Dublin, Ireland
Student Researcher Alice Ciciora
Mentor Andrew Gould
Title Integrating Islam in Ireland
Research Description

Alice developed a senior thesis in political science through research inititated during her studies at UCD. The thesis examines the integration and accommodation of the Muslim community in Ireland. Through personal interviews, Alice investigated what leaders in the Irish-Muslim community and prominent Irish government officials have to say on a range of issues related to the relationships between religion and politics and between the Irish-Muslim community and Irish society. After preparing and meeting with her advisor during the Fall semester of 2007, Alice began conducting interviews for her political science senior honors thesis during the semester abroad in Dublin. Alice extended her stay in Ireland through the summer to continue research through a grant from the Nanovic Institute. Overall, she conducted 16 interviews with Irish and Irish-Muslim elites. Alice spent the 2008-2009 academic year writing her thesis, which, in April of 2009, was awarded the Political Science Department's Helen Kellogg Institute Prize in the field of Comparative Politics. Additionally, Alice developed a chapter of the thesis into an article which will be published in The Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs Vol. 30 No. 2. She hopes to continue researching Islam in Ireland, and Islam in Europe more broadly while earning her PhD in political science at the University of California, Berkeley.

Site Perth, Australia
Student Researcher Jonathan Barry, Michael Bruns
Mentor  
Title Wind Engineering
Research Description

The study of wind engineering examines how various patterns and forces affect the strength, displacement, and other features of different structures. For our experiment, we examined the effect of wind on a model building based on its orientation to a surrounding building. The following sections begin by explaining basic aspects and features of wind engineering and then further explains how our research was conducted. Finally, calculations were made from data obtained through experimentation in the wind tunnel and trends were observed to explain how a buildings orientation affects its vibration. It was generally found that the moments and displacements of our structure in the cross direction increased as the first building was moved closer to our model regardless of orientation whereas the moments and displacements of our structure in the along direction was greatly affected by our model’s orientation to the other building.

Site Perth, Australia
Student Researcher Jennifer Berry
Mentor Dr. Kamy Cheng
Title Renewable Energy Vehicle: Regenerative Braking
Research Description

The UWA Renewable Energy Vehicle (REV) Project seeks to build zero emission vehicles from existing petrol cars and power them by electricity gained from renewable energy sources in order to “revolutionize public transport.”   The cars built by the REV team can be licensed and driven on the streets like any other car.  The team is currently working on several different cars, like the Hyundai Getz, the Lotus Elise, and the SAE.  The cars chosen for the project are low-weight and aerodynamic in order to increase their efficiency.  The Hyundai Getz was at the end of the process of being completed, and the conversion of the Lotus Elise had been recently started. 
I joined the project in 2009 as a research opportunity and was assigned to work on the implementation of regenerative braking in the Lotus Elise.  In order to have an effective braking scheme, research was conducted in order to develop an understanding of regenerative braking as well as to determine the best method of regenerative braking for the needs of the project.  After our research was completed, we decided to implement the regenerative braking through the use of simple variable resistors that would give an output relative to how far the brake pedal was pressed down.  This value is then used in the software for the motor controller to provide regenerative braking in a linear manner up to the maximum value set in the software.  When neither the brake pedal nor the accelerator is being pressed, a small amount of regenerative braking is used to help recharge the batteries in order to achieve greater efficiency. 

Site Perth, Australia
Student Researcher Tom Bongiorno,  Andrew Mrugala
Mentor  
Title Finite Element Analysis and its Applications to Soft-Tissue Modelling
Research Description

"To date, finite element analysis has provided the engineering community with a means for analysing engineering systems and their behaviour in response tophysical changes in boundary conditions. Recently, a move has been made by researchers to utilise the predictive capabilities of the finite element method to model soft tissues with the ultimate goal of simulating surgical procedures. The purpose of this study was to determine an optimal mesh type and size for the finite element analysis of a hyperelastic, Neo-Hookean cylinder via a convergence test. To run the simulations, the finite element software package ANSYS was used along with its intrinsic mesh configurations. Solutions output by the package were analysed for convergence by comparing average internal strain energies after a 40% uniaxial compression-displacement on a cylinder with 50 mm diameter and 50 mm height. It was found that a hexahedral, 8-node mesh with average three-dimensional element spacing of 2.61 mm yielded a converged solution with optimal computational speed. In addition to the
convergence study, a literature search was conducted and the ANSYS software package was investigated for methods and software features that could potentially be used to simulate model failure. The results of this study could further the engineering community’s goal of simulating surgeries with finite element models by providing methods for finding optimal meshes for given geometries as well as potential avenues into simulations of failure."

Site Perth, Australia
Student Researcher Nicholas Civetta, Andrew Mullen, and JC Clark
Mentor Prof. Charitha Pattiaratchi
Title A Study of Nearshore Currents
Research Description

An investigation into nearshore current flow can yield a variety of pertinent information including the properties of wave patterns, larger current phenomena, and the processes of sediment resuspension within a system. Using Acoustic Doppler Velocimeters and Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers, velocity, pressure and backscatter measurements were recorded for a one hour period at Floreat Beach in Perth, WA in an attempt to better understand and classify current flow and wave motion in the coastal surf zone and consequential variations in suspended sediment concentration. In describing mean current flow, performing a spectral analysis, and comparing velocity, pressure, and backscatter, three important conclusions were made. First, an unknown longshore pulsing action was discovered with a period of approximately 13 minutes, possibly caused by shear waves or vortices produced by wave groups. Second, it was discovered that the waves have an inertial subrange that indicates the presence of turbulence within the flow. Third, changes in suspended sediment concentration near the edge of the surf zone were primarily due to swells forcing in less turbid water from outside the surf zone.

Site Perth, Australia
Student Researcher Adam David Doster
Mentor Dr. Kamy Cheng
Title Renewable Energy Vehicle: Rear Structural Support System
Research Description

The REV Project is a research project at the University of Western Australia which aims to convert gas-powered automobiles into fully functional electric vehicles.  The first vehicle to be converted was a Hyundai Getz, and the second vehicle for the project is a Lotus Elise.  Converting the Lotus Elise to an electric vehicle added a significant amount of weight to the rear of the car due to the addition of batteries beneath the boot.  A project was undertaken to design a new structural support system for the rear of the Lotus Elise.

Site Perth, Australia
Student Researcher Anne Flinchbaugh
Mentor Dr. Kamy Cheng
Title  Renewable Energy Vehicle Instrumentation:   Interfacing with the Car Computer
Research Description

In society today, there is a rising concern with pollution and the state of the Earth’s environment.  One aspect of human life that affects the air pollution is our daily usage of fossil fuels.  Not only is there a consequential negative effect on the environment, but the fossil fuels are not an unlimited source.  Therefore, it is necessary to research and implement alternatives, such as electric vehicles which would eliminate the need of fossil fuel usage.  The Renewable Energy Vehicle (REV) Project at the University of Western Australia addresses this issue by working to design and build electrical vehicles that are efficient and of equal performance to the vehicles powered by fossil fuels.  The REV project has a team of students working on the conversion of a 2002 Lotus Elise S2 from an engine vehicle to using renewable energy technology, or an electric vehicle.   In order to finalize the construction of the car and ensure it is suited for the road, parameters of the car, such as battery level, brake lights, the open door light, and other sensors must be interfaced with the car computer to be displayed to the driver.   The traditional parameters and warnings as well as the new ones associated with the electrical properties of the car must be displayed to the driver.    

Site Perth, Australia
Student Researcher Kate Fogarty, Alex Wallach
Mentor  
Title Polystyrene Beams Research
Research Description

Over the course of the spring semester of 2009 at the University of Western Australia, a series of tests were performed on various lengths of polystyrene-timber beams and timber strips to investigate such parameters as Young’s Modulus, the shear modulus, buckling load, and modulus of rupture of the timber.  Various methods of mathematical analysis were employed to arrive at these values, such as energy methods, stiffness computer methods, and Euler buckling formulas.  The following report details the theory behind the methods used, followed by a procedure elaborating on the experiments performed, and a results section discussing the numerical findings of the tests.  The tests performed include bending and shear tests of beams, cantilever tests and centre point loading of timber strips, and columns buckling tests.

Site Perth, Australia
Student Researcher Jennifer Kovacs, Megan O’Keefe
Mentor Prof. Hui Tong Chua & Dr. Xiaolin Wang
Title Error and Volume Calculations for the Constant Volume Variable Pressure Adsorption Update Measurement Facility
Research Description

The Constant Volume Variable Pressure Facility seeks to conduct adsorption and desorption research concerning methane gas as an adsorbate on an adsorbent of activated carbon. It is hoped that this research will eventually lead to an alternative fuel that will replace petrol in automobiles and become more environmentally friendly.  The CVVP system was designed and built by Justin Economis in 2006 as an Honours Thesis. Since then, the project has been evolving and improving in both accuracy and in treatment of data.  As a research opportunity, Jennifer Kovacs and Megan O’Keefe joined the CVVP project in the Spring Semester of 2009, and were given the task of evaluating the error in the system, as well as calculating vessel volume ratios.  To assess the error in the system, the error in the number of moles dosed was calculated and found to be slightly larger than expected. After analysing the calculations it was determined that the error was still reasonable.  Additionally, from the volume vessel ratios it was concluded that the ratio of piping volume to vessel volume remained small for the dosing and storage vessels, but was rather significant for the total calibrated back-up vessel volume indicating non-constant temperature conditions. 

Site Perth, Australia
Student Researcher Piyush Ranade
Mentor  
Title Computational Fluid Dynamics Simulations and Particle Image Velocimetry Experiments
Research Description

CFD was employed in this research project to calculate the projectd drag force and lift force generated over an airfoil that would be used in the Hoverpod. The CFD simulation represented the rotor of the hovercraft connected to the stator and placed in a wind tunnel. The walls of the wind tunnel satisfied the no-slip condition, and the distance between the rotor blade and the velocity inlet was varied with every simulation. The stator-rotor configuration was used instead of simply the rotor because it better simulated actual conditions. Consequently, the stator-rotor configuration was also used in the wind tunnel experiments.

Site Perth, Australia
Student Researcher Robert Powers
Mentor  
Title Analysis and Evaluation of the SAE Space Frame Chassis for Modification
Research Description

The paper will then examine the development of the space frame chassis along with basic principles surrounding favorable chassis design. It will examine the effect of total mass, roll centers, center of gravity, and chassis stiffness on the performance of racecars. Through examination of these factors and SAE rules, I will propose an alternative design for modification to the chassis. Ultimately evaluation of possible alternatives will show that modification to the current chassis is impractical and counterproductive. Research and general trends in the racecar arena will show that the SAE team should pursue producing a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis if the team wants to be competitive in the future.

Site Perth, Australia
Student Researcher Thomas Banasiak
Mentor Dr. Kamy Cheng
Title Renewable Energy Vehicle: Brake-By-Wire BMW X5
Research Description

The purpose of this project was to design a brake-by-wire system for a BMW X5 with appropriate safety features that avoided interference to normal driver behaviour.  As this was only a semester-long research opportunity, more attention was paid towards developing a plan for the brake-by-wire system.  Steps taken toward this objective consisted in brainstorming ideas, conducting research, analysing the original X5 design, and creating computer models.  Overall, a great deal was learnt about brake-by-wire systems, teamwork, and working as an engineer in the real world.  This project will be continued by Nicholas Randell of the REV team.

Site Perth, Australia
Student Researcher Tim Wallace
Mentor Dr. Kamy Cheng
Title Renewable Energy Vehicle: Ventilation System for Lotus Elise Battery Cages
Research Description

The REV project is pursuing the task of designing a performance vehicle run completely on renewable energy sources.  One of the team’s projects involves using the model of a 2002 Elise S2 and replacing the engine with lithium batteries.  The vehicle will run on 99 lithium batteries placed in three separate battery cages.  For these batteries to run at top performance while maintaining their full lifespan a ventilation system must be designed to prevent overheating during discharging and charging.  Tim Wallace joined the research team halfway through the 2009 year and was assigned the task of designing this ventilation system.  Before any designs were considered, research was done to better understand the constraints and requirements that the system must adhere to.

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Page last modified: Wed. February 08, 2012 10:01:03 AM