Tuesday, March 24,2015
The two senior engineering majors at George Mason University appear to have invented and built a way to use sound waves to put out fires. It started as an idea for a senior research project, and after a year of trial and error and spending about $600 of their own money, they have built a somewhat portable sound generator, amplifier, power source and focusing tube that would seem to have great potential in attacking fires in a variety of situations.
Robertson, 23, and Tran, 28, applied for a provisional patent at the end of November, which gives them a year to do further testing on other flammable chemicals — so far they have put out only fires started with rubbing alcohol — and to continue to refine their device. Although they originally conceived of the device as a way to put out kitchen fires and, perhaps, fires in spacecraft, a local fire department already has asked them to test their bass waves on a structure fire; they think the concept could replace the toxic and messy chemicals involved in fire extinguishers.
Robertson of Newport News, Va., and Tran of Arlington, Va., are electrical and computer engineering majors, and the idea for their senior project came about only because they didn’t like the ideas that their professors had proposed. They had seen research on how sound waves could disrupt flames, “but there’s nothing on the market that works,” Robertson said. “So we thought we could be the ones to make it happen. And that’s the inspiration for the project.”
As with all great scientific inspiration, there were plenty of naysayers, the pair said. They are electrical engineers, not chemical, and were told, “You guys don’t know what you’re talking about,” Tran said. A number of faculty members declined to serve as advisers on the project, but professor Brian Mark agreed to oversee it and not fail them if the whole thing flopped, Tran said.
Continue reading and view a video on Washington Post site
Thursday, March 19,2015
This university-wide celebration features the most outstanding undergraduate research and creative projects from all schools and colleges. The OSCAR Mentoring and Student Excellence Awards will be presented. Join us!
- Free refreshments AM and PM sessions
- Oral Presentations 10am-12pm in CFA Grand Tier III
- Poster presentations from the winners of the college and school symposia, URSP and USTF funded students 12-3pm in CFA Main Lobby
- Invited oral and musical presentations
Thursday, March 19,2015
Each cluster will bring together perspectives from disparate disciplines that may not always have opportunities to interact, to allow for the sharing and creation of new perspectives.
The first symposium is scheduled for Monday, April 27, in Room 163 of Research Hall on the Fairfax Campus. Broadly organized around the topic of health, it is open to all interested researchers. Faculty, staff, students and alumni are invited to participate. Space is limited, so early registration is requested.
The schedule includes:
- Presentations and a Q&A panel by representatives of funding agencies including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Defense Threat Reduction Agency and others, in relevant scientific areas such as life sciences, engineering and social sciences.
- A panel comprising Mason researchers who have successfully pursued multidisciplinary activities in the broad area of health and who will be sharing their experiences and best practices.
- Two-minute presentations by participating researchers “pitching” a problem for which they need help from other disciplines and a multidisciplinary team to work on the solution. Researchers can express their intent to present during these “lightning round” breakout sessions during registration.
- Posters by all interested participants working in health-related topics. Guidelines for the posters can be found on the registration link. A volume including all submitted posters will be circulated during the symposium as a reference guide for Mason’s current and upcoming efforts in the health domain.
After the symposium, a competitive internal call for proposals will be issued by the Provost’s Office, which will provide seed grants of up to $50,000 to support the most promising new multidisciplinary research cluster proposals. Details of the seed grant program will be announced in early April.
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Monday, February 2,2015
The competition, held online between Nov. 14 and 16, 2014, received entries from undergraduates at 131 universities across the globe. Each team selected one problem to solve and submit in a final paper. Bradley, Pfeifle and Toler chose to answer: Where could a planet have a stable orbit in a system with two stars?
While their prior course work helped create a foundation for possible solutions, the students were pushed out of their comfort zones in their race against the clock. “We blocked off time for different stages of the writing and research,” says Bradley. “We even made sure we marked a time to eat so we didn’t forget.”
After many hours of work, the team submitted its paper and awaited the decisions. The students’ diligence and hard work paid off on Jan. 14, when the University Competition Committee announced the results. George Mason University was among 23 teams to receive the silver medal. “The key point for the team [was] to recognize that, as in any research project, the problem is open-ended.” says George Mason physics professor Paul So, who served as the faculty sponsor and coach for the team.
Continue reading on Mason News .