Paul Richards, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Project Topic and Objective
The topic of the proposal was steel frames with superior elastic energy capacity that will permit buildings to better withstand severe earthquake loading. The anticipated outcomes related to mentoring were: each student researcher would be the lead author on a conference publication, students would present results at a national conference, and each student researcher would be a co-author on a journal article; with the graduate student researcher as a lead author.
Students Who Participated and Academic Deliverables
A total of seven students were supported by the MEG, one graduate student and six undergraduate students. Three of the students were women, and four men. This section will discuss the work of each of the students and the academic deliverables that each produced:
Leah O’Neill – Leah was the graduate student involved in the mentoring environment. I met with Leah each week during 2014, and she worked closely with Trevor Jones, who was an undergraduate assigned to work with her. Leah was running nonlinear computer simulations to investigate the unique geometry for beams in the Elastic Frames; Trevor had a desk next to her and helped her with the analyses. Leah produced a thesis and a conference paper, Lateral-Torsional Buckling Capacity of Tapered-Flange Moment Frame Shapes, for the 8th International Conference on Behavior of Steel Structures in Seismic Areas held in Shanghai, China July 1-3, 2015. A journal paper on her work is still in progress. Leah was unavailable to present the paper in Shanghai for the conference because she was nine-months pregnant.
Trevor Jones – Trevor was the first undergraduate to be supported by the MEG. He began assisting Leah in early 2014. His contribution to Leah’s work cannot be overstated. He wrote scripts in Python to automate the generation of Leah’s models. The work Trevor did enabled Leah to obtain results for thousands of geometries. In addition to being a co-author on the conference paper mentioned above, Trevor took the lead on writing a technical note for the AISC Engineering Journal. That technical note, Lateral Torsional Buckling Capacity of Shapes with Low Ix/Iy Ratios, was submitted in January 2015 and received positive review from four out of five reviewers. Trevor’s excellent work helped him to be admitted to our graduate program. In 2015 he was moved off of the MEG and started being supported by an externally sponsored research project.
Joshua Lott – Joshua Lott began work in late 2014. He was an undergraduate student who was mentored directly by myself. Joshua was focused on the design of experiments to test Elastic Frame sub-assemblies. This work has yet to produce publications, because the experiments still need to be run. My close interactions with Joshua, facilitated by the MEG, enabled me to write a strong recommendation for him for graduate school. In early 2015 Joshua was accepted directly to the PhD program at the University of California, San Diego. Joshua started his PhD work in Fall 2015.
Jacob Linford – Jacob Linford began work in early 2015 and was mentored directly by myself. His project involved some peripheral small-scale experiments to investigate ways to ensure that Elastic Frames would perform well, even if pushed beyond the elastic limit. Jacob designed three series of experiments and obtained good results. The results that were generated were preliminary and will not be published until more experiments are completed. My close interactions with Jacob, facilitated by the MEG, allowed me to gage his potential and I transitioned him onto an externally sponsored research project for the last months he worked for me as an undergraduate. He completed original research and wrote a journal paper in conjunction with that project, Finite Element Evaluation of the Chevron Effect in Ductile Braced Frames, that has submitted to the AISC Engineering Journal.
Breyandi Bond, Bahaar Kalra, and Jayson Taylor – These other three undergraduate students were supported by the MEG and played ancillary roles to the primary work that was being conducted. My work with Breyandi in 2014 helped her to be admitted to our graduate program and she will graduate with her Masters Degree in 2016. Bahaar Kalra completed a small study to investigate the weight savings that might be achieved with the Elastic Frames. She did not author or co-author any publications but her work identified a path for future productive research. Similarly, Jayson Taylor worked on a small side project that will help us in future computer modeling of Elastic Frames.
How the MEG money was used
Most of the MEG was used for student support: $14,440 for undergraduate wages, and $4625 for graduate student wages. The remainder, $1173, was used for supplies associated with the experimental testing that Jacob Linford performed.
The list below indicates how much each of the students were supported:
- Leah O’Neill ($4625)
- Joshua Lott ($5245)
- Jacob Linford ($3600)
- Trevor Jones ($2167)
- Beyandi Bond ($1097)
- Bahaar Kalra ($1785)
- Jayson Taylor ($546)
Total Student Wages: $19,065
Final Results and Findings of the Project
The Elastic Frames have a more complicated geometry than typical steel building structures. The primary results from the project were methods for predicting how these geometries perform. Leah and Trevor developed basic relationships for predicting the lateral-torsional buckling capacity of beams and columns in Elastic Frames, overcoming one of the major hurdles in the development of the system. The buckling capacity of tapered flange shapes can be reasonably estimated as twenty percent of the capacity of a straight-flange shape with the same end cross-section. Jacob Linford’s primary result was that shear yielding back-up mechanisms will provide greater stiffness than flexural yielding back-up mechanisms. These results have informed the design of experimental prototypes that will be tested in 2016.
Evaluation of the Mentoring Environment
The student mentoring that occurred as a result of the MEG was outstanding. I was heavily involved with each of the students, and provided most of the mentoring. Two of the mentored students were able to move onto externally sponsored research project while still undergraduates, providing opportunities for others to be supported by the MEG. I credit the MEG entirely for giving an opportunity for Joshua Lott to work with me, which was essential for his acceptance into a PhD program (his standardized scores were not exceptional and his acceptance was based on the strength of my recommendation letter).
Evaluation of How Well the Academic Objectives of the Proposal Were Met
While I believe the outcomes and products of the MEG were outstanding, they varied somewhat from what was originally proposed. I had envisioned traveling with students to a conference and having them present, but that ended up not working out since the conference we submitted work to was in China, and Leah was too pregnant to travel, and Trevor had a summer employment opportunity that he could not leave for an extended period. Still, the number of products that were produced were about what I had envisioned on the outset, and I think the opportunities for several students were outstanding.