This summer, 30 engineering and computer science students worked alongside faculty mentors on complex research designed to help solve real-world problems. The Advanced Summer Program in Research (ASPiRe), now in its fourth year, offers undergraduate DeMatteis students the opportunity to work on independent research related to their major.
While each ASPiRe project ranged in scope and focus, the primary goal for students was the same – to uncover technological advancements that will help make a positive impact on society and to gain valuable research experience.
Engineering students Alejandro Mato ’21, Alyssa Pancho ’22 and Michael Cariaso ’19 and computer science graduate student Alexander Speicher ’20 worked with Assistant Professor of Engineering Salvador Rojas-Murillo, PhD to develop a virtual system to help teach sign language to people suffering with hearing loss or total deafness. The team of students used virtual reality goggles to track and identify key visual areas that drive the attention of a person learning the ASL alphabet.
“As an undergraduate engineering student, it is an incredible experience to be a part of the ASPiRe Program,” Mato said. “At most universities you would have to be a graduate student in order to be able to do this type of in-depth research.”
To participate in the ASPiRe program, students submit a one-page proposal outlining their research and the resources needed to complete their project. Selected students receive a $4000 stipend to compensate them for the ten weeks they spent working on their projects over the summer. Funding for the program is provided by contributions from DeMatteis Advisory Board members and alumni as well as funds allocated to faculty from the university for research.
“The ASPiRe program provides our highly motivated undergraduates with outstanding opportunities for research training in a large variety of disciplines,” said Dean Sina Rabbany. “We hope that the experience they gain over the summer helps develop critical skills that are needed to compete and succeed in their future careers.”
Bioengineering student Dominick Romano ’20, worked with Dean Rabbany in Hofstra’s Cell and Tissue Engineering lab studying how endothelial cells, the building blocks of blood vessels, are affected by biomechanical forces such as blood flow which is responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to organs and tissues. Their findings can be used to determine how plaque forms on cardiac arteries, in vascular development and in regenerative metastatic cancer research.
“I’ve learned a lot of important lab skills,” said Romano. “I can set up experiments on my own which is an important skill to have for anyone who wants to pursue a career in research. And, being able to work in a lab with such an outstanding support system is great.”
For Civil Engineering student Robyn Alma ’21, a casual observation about a make-up case inspired the design of storage for a water pump testing kit.
“I was working with Dr. Albers on a design to fabricate a water pump testing station and I noticed that the design of my collapsible cosmetic case would allow testing tools for the water pump to be easily contained and transported,” Alma said. “I’m a very creative person and ASPiRe gave me the opportunity to to take control of the design process and use my creativity to troubleshoot in real time.”
Computer science and mathematics major Justin Cabot-Miller ‘20 used his passion for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data on two natural language processing projects. Under the guidance of Computer Science Chair, Dr. Krishnan Pillaipakkamnatt and Computer Science Professor Dr. Simona Doboli, he analyzed data to determine what made certain online posts develop into conversational threads. Cabot-Miller also worked with fellow computer science major Jonathan Montag to create a program that would simplify the process of analyzing legal documents.
“I like being able to use AI and Big Data to help people,” Cabot-Miller said. “My research can be used to improve systems for veterans filing claims and using medical data to predict cancer survival. Working with Drs. Doboli and Krish, I’ve learned so much about methodology and different techniques that can be used to analyze patterns of communication that improve productivity.”
For computer science major Youssef Elmougy ’21 and computer engineering major Jason Jackrel ’21, ASPiRe helped them develop durable skills that will serve them both academically and professionally in the future. They worked with Assistant Professor of Computer Science Jianchen Shan, PhD to develop systems to improve the Quality of Service (QoS) of virtual Graphic Processing Units (vGPUs) and virtual Central Processing Units (vCPUs) when they are being shared by multiple users in the cloud.
“Summer research taught me a lot about time management. I learned to work at my own pace and according to what needed to get done, not based on what a class schedule dictates,” Jackrel said. “I also realized that it’s not just about the work you’re doing on a computer – its about collaborating with your peers and mentors.”
For a full description of all the ASPiRe research projects or more information about the program, visit ASPiRe Summer Research Program.