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College of Engineering (Texas A&M University)Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site [Summer-2017]

Interdisciplinary Research Experiences in Metrology & Non-Destructive Inspection

Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
May 29 - Aug. 4, 2017

National Science Foundation (NSF)

This REU site program will enhance the knowledge and skill-level of a cohort of undergraduate students through empowering, hands-on and interdisciplinary research experiences in both traditional/advanced metrology and non-destructive inspection (NDI) technologies. Metrology, the science of measurement, and (non­destructive) inspection, transcends scales, materials, and disciplines; yet, rarely are its salient aspects emphasized. This site is a first-of-its-kind direct response to specific concerns raised by regional industry partners and technical workforce recruiters. The impact of this site will be to create empowered future researchers and a workforce well-rooted in metrology/NDI, and motivate them to pursue advanced study and STEM careers.

You will be hosted at TAMU over 10 summer weeks, where you will immerse in hands-on research experiences comprising of a state-of-the-art research project, technical sessions/seminars, lab practice, field tours, and GRE/professional-development workshops. You will be part of a vertically-integrated team, each comprising of 2 REU students, 1 senior undergraduate and 1 graduate student (from TAMU) and a faculty mentor working in concert on a specific research project. Your deliverables will include public dissemination of research results, and a follow-up plan tailored to your career interests. This on-site experience will be supplemented with follow-ups for continued interaction, growth, and guidance for pursuing advanced study.

Program Goals:
This REU site program will place emphasis on the major aspects of scientific measurement and inspection, especially in relevance to the energy and manufacturing sectors. Intended goals are:
     1. To excite, empower and educate 30+ undergraduates in traditional/advanced metrology and NDI,
     2. For you to experience an immersive research-training through a related transformative project,
     3. To mold you as both an independent/collaborative researcher capable of effective communication,
     4. For you to learn to ask the right questions, formulate plans, pragmatically interpret data, and
     5. To inspire and enable you to pursue advanced study and related STEM careers.

Participant Support:
- Stipends - $450/week ($4,500 total over summer)
- Travel - $450
- Living expenses - $2,500
- TAMU infrastructure for summer REU students (partial list):
     > Undergraduate Summer Research Grants (USRG) Program that caters to both the student’s research project and professional development, and culminates in a TAMU research symposium
     > On-campus accommodation
     > Summer meal plans and/or off-campus dining options
     > Disability service office
     > Free bus service within the city/campus limits
     > Student ID
     > eCampus
     > Wi-Fi
     > Libraries
     > Recreation Centers
     > Health Centers
     > Open Access Labs, etc.

- A current undergraduate student at a 2 or 4-year college/university
- (Or an outstanding high school graduate accepted into such an institution and slated to start his/her degree in Fall)
- Pursuing a degree (or having strong demonstrated background/interest) in one or more of the following fields:
     Materials Science & Engineering
     Mechanical Engineering
     Petroleum Engineering
     Industrial Engineering (Processes)
     Aerospace Engineering
     Civil Engineering
- GPA of 3.0 or higher
- US citizen, national or permanent resident

[Please refer to the "Projects" section below for a list of potential/available research projects]
[Please refer to the "How to Apply" section below for application packet instructions/deadlines]


This REU site will enhance the knowledge and skill-level of the future generation in metrology/NDI technologies. Under this umbrella topic, the 6 major intellectual themes include:
     1. Comprehensive forensic metrology/NDI of surface & sub-surface deterioration
     2. Fabricating/measuring bio-inspired surface topologies to enhance performance
     3. Non-destructive measurement/tolerancing of inaccessible geometries
     4. High-speed microscopy/characterization of the dynamics of fluid flow
     5. Ultra high-frequency bandwidth measurement of forces
     6. High-resolution in-situ scanning/monitoring of wellbore casing integrity

[Theme-1: Comprehensive Forensic Metrology/NDI of Surface & Sub-Surface Deterioration]

Forensic Metrology of Wear Mechanism Interactions in Novel Machining Tribosystems

[Dr. Mathew Kuttolamadom]

Objective - To elucidate the fundamental interactions between physico-chemical wear mechanisms and their accumulation order in novel machining tribosystems, though a comprehensive forensic metrology approach. The knowledge of the material’s tribological (friction/wear) response to varying thermo-mechanical input stimuli will enable the design of better wear-resistant materials and higher process predictive power/accuracy.

Description - The project tasks will involve both actual tribosystem and idealized tribometer testing of machining tribosystems relevant to the energy/manufacturing sectors, and forensic analyses of the damage through high-resolution optical microscopy, scanning white-light interferometry, scanning electron microscopy, elemental composition mapping through energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy, etc.


Fig. 1: Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) image of a worn WC-Co tool insert that turned Ti-6Al-4V showing physicochemical wear mechanism interactions

Fig. 2: 3D point cloud of a worn tool profile using a scanning white-light interferometer

ETID-MMET Department (TAMU)MSEN Department (TAMU)

[Theme-2: Fabricating/Measuring Bio-Inspired Surface Topologies to Enhance Performance]

Manufacturing & Characterizing Bio-Inspired Surfaces with Topology Feature Gradients to Reduce Friction/Wear

[Dr. Mathew Kuttolamadom]

Objective - To fabricate and characterize snake scale-inspired surface topology features on select metallic/non-metallic materials to improve their tribological performance, viz., to lower friction and wear. This project will enable deterministic topology feature rules for reducing friction/wear as well as help create durable and resilient surfaces.

Description - First, the core topological features that enable the low directional frictional coefficient and wear in scaled reptilian skin will be investigated. A combination of a Ytterbium fiber laser integrated with a CNC mill and a selective laser sintering (SLS) additive manufacturing machine will then be used to fabricate the desired topological feature gradients on candidate materials. Finally, their tribological performance (friction and wear) will be quantified and compared using a tribometer (and imaging) to confirm physico-chemical material interaction behavior under idealized conditions.


Fig. 1: 3D image and profile form measurements taken from a freeze-dried snake scale specimen (left); 3D topological map of another specimen (right)

Fig. 2: 3D topological map of an milled aluminum-alloy surface that replicate essential topological profile dimensions from overlapping snake scales

ETID-MMET Department (TAMU)MSEN Department (TAMU)

[Theme-3: Non-Destructive Measurement/Tolerancing of Inaccessible Geometries]

Ultrasound Inspection & Mapping of Gun-Drilled Holes

[Dr. Jyhwen Wang]

Objective - To investigate the effectiveness of NDI sequences and sampling in measuring the dimensions of high-aspect ratio gun-drilled holes in opaque large-size parts. This knowledge has the potential to enable standardized NDI testing sequences based on feature type as well as to enable real-time process monitoring/control while drilling these holes for better part quality.

Description - A semi-automated inspection methodology for gun-drilling will be developed in this project. The advances rely on the design of an innovative fixture and the development of data processing algorithms. One or multiple ultrasound probes will be mounted on and moved along a guide on the fixture to investigate the use of real-time data to monitor/control the gun drilling process. Data collected from the probes will be processed by using computational geometry algorithms to determine if the inspected holes are within the tolerance specifications.


Fig. 1: Concept of using an ultrasound probe to non-destructively inspect inaccessible features

ETID-MMET Department (TAMU)MSEN Department (TAMU)MEEN Department (TAMU)

[Theme-4: High-Speed Microscopy/Characterization of the Dynamics of Fluid Flow]

Visualization of Mist Flow in Energy-Saving Minimum Quantity Lubrication (MQL) Machining

[Dr. Bruce Tai]

Objective - To fabricate a test bed and develop a measurement method for mist flow visualization. The setup will be used to investigate the mist flow transformation as a function of drill geometrical features and to observe the oil droplet trajectory near the tool cutting edges using high-speed high-resolution microscopy. This knowledge has the potential to enable better through-channel design, process parameters for improved productivity, and an inspection method for MQL tools.

Description - A production MQL device will be used to generate mist flow through a concentric pipeline to a rotary union, and to a transparent drill bit. The various channel designs will be made by stereolithography 3D-printing of clear photopolymers. A high-speed camera, along with a microscopic lens, will be used to measure the flow. Students will design/fabricate the system and optimize the lighting/camera to capture different flow images under designated spindle speeds, passage geometries, and flow settings. The image data will be processed using particle image velocimetry (PIV) technique.


Fig. 1: (a) 3D-printed drills with various through-channel geometries, (b) The testbed design for high-speed microscopy

MEEN Department (TAMU)

[Theme-5: Ultra High-Frequency Bandwidth Measurement of Forces]

Measurement of Shear Band Force Oscillations in High-speed Machining of Ti/Ni-Based Superalloys

[Dr. Dinakar Sagapuram]

Objective - To capture cutting force oscillations arising from the shear band flow instabilities in machining of Ti and Ni-based superalloys. The shear banding frequency in high-speed machining (>1 m/s) of these alloys is typically in the 5-40 kHz which is beyond the capability of typical force sensors. To this end, we will explore the use of indirect force sensing techniques based on accelerometry and non-contact high-speed imaging methods.

Description - First, acceleration measurements at low cutting speeds where shear band frequency is ≤1 kHz will be measured using a MEMS-based accelerometer, mounted close to the tool tip. This data will be combined with force data from a piezoelectric dynamometer to determine the effective dynamic mass of the system to estimate high-frequency forces The second method will involve in situ high-speed imaging, where a high-speed CMOS video camera (>50 kHz framerate at ~1 µm spatial resolution) will be used to measure the tool displacement and acceleration at high spatio-temporal resolution. Besides complementing the accelerometer based shear band force measurements, high-speed imaging will also shed light on the shear band dynamics itself.


Fig. 1: (a) Optical micrograph showing the ‘saw-tooth’ shear banding chip morphology of Ti-6Al-4V, (b) Electron backscatter diffraction map showing the highly sheared morphology within the (black) band

Fig. 2: Shear banding in cutting of Ti-6Al-4V: high-speed image sequence (40,000 fps) revealing two-phase shear band flow

ISEN Department (TAMU)

[Theme-6: High-Resolution In-Situ Scanning/Monitoring of Wellbore Casing Integrity]

High-resolution In-situ Investigation of Wellbore Casings

[Dr. Sam Noynaert]

Objective - To use laser scanning technology in surface/downhole tests to identify damaged wellbore casings, measure the extent of the damage, and identify the potential source. This will lead to an improved understanding of casing damage mechanisms as well as the development of an improved technique for identifying wellbore casing damage and thus potential integrity issues. This project will include cooperation from a major US steel casing manufacturer in providing manufacturing data and industry-leading expertise which will help both data interpretation and student perspectives.

Description - This project involves the design/fabrication of a surface testing apparatus as well as completing the surface testing of the NDI equipment for oilfield tubulars. The first task is to test/confirm the inspection technology prior to deployment to a downhole environment. The test apparatus will consist of stand on which 5’ - 15’ casing sections can be safely rested.  The stand will be able to handle casing sizes ranging from 53-lb/ft, 9-5/8” OD casing to 17-lb/ft, 4-½” casing. Once on the horizontal stand, the casing will be filled with a drilling fluid such as mud, fresh water or some other combination to test their effects on downhole data acquisition. Once secured in the stand, laser scanning will then be utilized to measure and log view data.


Fig. 1: Test apparatus/DAQ to be used for enhanced in-situ casing inspection, (inset) High-resolution laser scan output example (LaserStream, L.P.)

Fig. 2: Scaled/instrumented drill rig drilling control/automation research (2 meter tall derrick that can drill 1.5" holes in 2.5' thick rock)

PETE Department (TAMU)

How to Apply

The application packet consists of 2 parts as detailed below. Please pay close attention to the instructions when completing the application process:
   1. Email (note the single "t" in "mathew") the following documents, merged as a single pdf file in the given order:
       (i) Completed/signed application form [Download docx] [Download pdf] [Download pdf (fillable)]
       (ii) Up-to-date resume [limit of 2 pages]
       (iii) Personal statement, that addresses the following 4 questions [limit of 1 page]:
            (a) Describe your major technical accomplishments/experiences to date
            (b) Why are you a good fit for this REU program
            (c) Describe what you plan to achieve through this REU program
            (d) Your long-term career goals, and plans for advanced study (if any)
       (iv) Current transcript [unofficial copy will do]
   2. Request letters of recommendation from 1-2 of your faculty mentors [minimum 1; maximum 2], and ask them to email the program directly at Additional guidelines:
       - The letter should contain your (full) name, current educational institution, and relationship of recommender to applicant
       - The letter should address your academic and/or research abilities, experiences and potential
       - You might want to provide your recommender the REU program details, your up-to-date resume, and the above instructions
       - Please confirm with your recommender that they have indeed emailed their recommendation letter by the due date

Apr. 30, 2017 [all application documents should be received by this date]

Selection Criteria:
(1) Technical background, attitude, and research aptitude/potential
(2) Interest in research, higher study, and related STEM careers
(3) Relevant leadership and extracurricular activities
(4) Potential to be matched in a vertically-integrated team
Students from underserved academic institutions and/or underrepresented groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

Selection Procedure:
All complete applications received by the deadline will be independently evaluated and ranked by a faculty panel. Following this, select students might be contacted via email for specific queries and/or for a short phone/Skype interview. Final decisions and notifications are expected to be sent out by the end of April.


Dr. Mathew Kuttolamadom
Assistant Professor, Manufacturing & Mechanical Engg. Technology
Dept. of Engg. Technology & Industrial Distribution
Dept. of Materials Science & Engg.
Texas A&M University
117E Thompson Hall, 3367 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-3367
Phone: 979-862-8472; Fax: 979-862-7969

Download the program flyer: