David Smith works on his URaCE research project. His faculty mentor was David Giles, an associate professor in biology, geology and environmental science.


URaCE Symposium

When: 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28; poster session 4-5:30 p.m. followed by a mix-and-mingle session 5:30-6 p.m.

Where: UTC University Center Chattanooga Room

Admission: Free

Information: Students that participated in the URaCE Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and the Cadiz International Research program will be presenting the results of their research.

To learn more about this year’s REU and Cadiz scholars, go to: https://www.utc.edu/research-creative-endeavor/events/summer-scholars-roster-2019.php

Mark Merritt spent the summer studying ways to save money by reducing the amount of time an electric vehicle needs to be connected to a charging station before it’s ready to hit the road again.

He was examining how a computer learning system known as an Artificial Neural Network could predict when and how long an electric vehicle should be connected to a charging station.  The research could help save money both for the vehicle’s owner and the electric utility company.

And he had no clue about any of it when he started.

“Before this summer I had knew nothing about EVs or Artificial Neural Networks either,” says Merritt, an electrical engineering major.

As part of the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), he took part in the research over the summer at the University of Cadiz in Spain, working with UTC’s Vahid Rasouli Disfani, an assistant professor in electrical engineering, and Fernando Perez in the Department of Automation Engineering, Electronics and Computer Architecture at the University of Cadiz.

On Aug. 28, research by 19 UTC students who took part in REU, including Merritt, will be presented at this year’s symposium by URaCE (Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavor).

“We are committed to expanding and improving this program so that the benefits and outcomes of participation are accessible to a broader segment of the undergraduate population,” says Lisa Piazza, director of URaCE. “Students who participate in research programs earn higher grades, graduate on time, and many become student leaders.”

Created in 2018, REU helps students find research projects across campus and across disciplines, including biology, chemistry, engineering, art and nursing, among others. The programs—on-campus and in Cadiz—give students the chance to engage in hands-on investigation and analysis, preparing them to join the workforce after graduation with new and important skills, she explains. REU also provides an outlet for students to pursue their personal interests and academic passions, she adds.

Students in both the on-campus and Cadiz programs cases had to apply and offer details of their research projects. A selection committee of UTC faculty and administrators select the REU on-campus students, while a committee with faculty from both UTC and the University of Cadiz chose those students.

Merritt says his project allowed his research trio to “learn from each other and develop new ideas,” Merritt says.

“This international experience exposed me to new problems that I previously didn’t even know existed and new opportunities to solve them,” he says. “This experience provided me with the necessary tools and confidence to excel in any future research endeavor.”


Media Relations Contacts: Email Shawn Ryan or call 423-425-4363.
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