Annual MERIT and TREND Fair Features Summer Research Projects

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MERIT student from the University of Maryland, Armstard Skipwith (right), Jr. discusses summer research project, "Biosensors for Cell Monitoring" with Dr. Krishnaprasad (left).

See photos from the event

Industry and university representatives, family, and friends were on hand for the annual summer fair showcasing student projects from the Maryland Engineering Research Internship Teams (MERIT) Biosystems Internships for Engineers (BIEN) program and the Training and Research Experiences in Nonlinear Dynamics (TREND) program at the Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building on Friday, August 8.

MERIT-BIEN and TREND constitute a unique, 11-week summer research program that offers top undergraduate engineering, mathematics and physics students from around the country the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge, team-based, cross-disciplinary research projects at the University of Maryland. The summer program culminates in the MERIT and TREND Fair, a half-day program that provides student teams a chance to showcase their work to a wider audience, and to be judged on the quality of their research efforts. Student projects were scrutinized by an independent panel of judges. MERIT-BIEN students worked primarily on projects related to nanotechnology and microelectronics devices, autonomous control, information security, system modeling and speech recognition, while TREND students worked primarily on projects related to nonlinear dynamics and physics.

The MERIT-BIEN award for Best Overall Project was presented to Laura Freyman and Scott Livingston for their research project, "Obstacle Avoidance and Boundary Following Inspired by the Echolocating Bat." Their faculty advisors were Prof. Timothy Horiuchi, Prof. P.S. Krishnaprasad, and Prof. Cynthia Moss.

The runner up for Best Overall Project, Guy Lipworth and Kyle McMillan, also received an award for Best Presentation for their research project, "An Analog VLSI Implementation of the Wake-Sleep Learning Algorithm Using Binary Synaptic Weights." Their faculty advisors were Prof. Timothy Horiuchi and Prof. Pamela Abshire.

Anqi Fu received the award for the Best Technical Report for her research project, "Porous Silicon Waveguides for Biological and Chemical Detection." Her faculty advisor was Prof. Thomas E. Murphy.

TREND judges awarded two Outstanding Projects for TREND students for their individual research projects: Benjamin Brown, for his research project "Chaotic Ion Orbits in Alfvenic Magnetic Reconnection Outflows" (faculty advisor: Prof. James Drake) and Alex Steinkamp, for "Large-Scale Deformation of Giant Unilamellar Vesicles" (faculty advisors: Prof. Wolfgang Losert and Prof. Willem Van De Water).

This year, nine students participated in the MERIT program and 10 participated in TREND. In addition to University of Maryland students, MERIT and TREND participants included students from University of Colorado at Boulder, Emory University, University of Florida, Harvey Mudd College, Kenyon College, North Carolina State University, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Utah State University, Washington University in St. Louis, West Virginia University, and University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus.

To see pictures from the event, please visit:

For more information about the MERIT program, please visit

Another ECE-related student research program that was held on campus this summer was the Computer Security REU. This program was coordinated by the Women in Engineering (WIE) program and run by Dr. Paige Smith, director of WIE. There were three projects in this summer's program, two of which were mentored by ECE faculty.

"Quantification of Computer Security" involved scholars Laura Betz and Matt Weinberg, and was mentored by Dr. Michel Cukier, an ECE-affiliated faculty member from the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

"Sensor Development for Increased Reliability in Monitoring Devices" was the project of CS scholars Olamide Alli and Darenae Evans, under the mentoring of the Dr. Kristine Rosfjord of the ECE Department.

CS scholars Sonja Bohr and Andrea Shome specialized in "Detection of Stimulated Human Users with Auditory CAPTCHAs," with Dr. Jonathan Simon of the ECE Department as their mentor.

For more information about the Computer Security REU, please visit:

Published August 11, 2008