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University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering

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Cullen College Students Sweep First University Technical Competition

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Melanie Ziems
Sonika Gahlwat presents "Understanding Elastic and Flexure Behavior of Half-Heusler Thermo-electric Materials"
Sonika Gahlwat presents "Understanding Elastic and Flexure Behavior of Half-Heusler Thermo-electric Materials"

Last month, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (AMSE) hosted the first ASME South Texas Section “University Technical Competition” (UTC) for local student engineers to exhibit their research and compete for awards. The event took place at Rice University, but students from the University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering swept many of the categories, taking home several awards.

In the undergraduate research category, Alan Garcia, Ethan Windish, Daniel Camacho and Mitul Patel won with their Cameron-sponsored capstone design project, “Cold Temperature Effects on Elastomers.” Additionally, Sonika Gahlawt is a Ph.D. candidate who won the graduate research category with her presentation, “Understanding Elastic and Flexure Behavior of Half-Heusler Thermo-electric Materials.”

“Quadcopter,” a capstone design project by Carlos Arocha, David Marquise, Sarmed Omran and Quentin Walker, won the undergraduate design category. Ala E. Omrani also received an award in the Subsea Engineering category for “Hydromechanical Modeling to Cope with Gas Volume Fraction during Artificial Lift.”

Li Sun, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the Cullen College, serves as the ASME advisor for the UH chapter and also advised the undergraduate research team. “This competition provided both undergraduate and graduate students a great opportunity to showcase their talent and knowledge among their peers as well as industrial experts,” he said. 

According to Sun, opportunities like the UTC are a rare chance for students to exhibit their research. “Such a platform is very much in need considering the nature of the mechanical engineering career and the reality that students rarely get opportunities to demonstrate their achievements. Our ASME students show tremendous of interest and enthusiasm in the diverse competition category and they were very excited to have the opportunity to communicate with fellow students from other universities and industrial professionals.” Students from UH swept four of the five categories, and each category award carried with it a $1,500 prize.

The event was organized by Ed Marotta of GE Oil and Gas. He said students from all the institutions provided for a great experience. “The University of Houston students did show great fortitude and enthusiasm in their preparation and participation in the event, which translated to a great showing by them,” he said.

The ASME South Texas section plans to hold the second annual UTC on UH’s campus next summer.

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