Student Veteran/Cadet/Midshipmen Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

(Introduction to Research & Purdue Graduate School)

The goal of this effort is to introduce undergraduate students w/military backgrounds (student veterans, service academy cadets and midshipmen, and Purdue ROTC cadets/midshipmen) to the strength and depth of Purdue University’s research capabilities, as well as our graduate programs by permitting these students to work with Purdue professors who are conducting day to day DoD research or who are doing work in areas that have significant DoD interest.  This program is at no cost to the Service or the student, and is patterned after Purdue’s highly successful Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program:  The program focuses on STEM students who are rising sophomores through rising seniors.  We will work with the Service Academies and Purdue ROTC to identify appropriate time periods (likely 4-6 weeks).  Program deliverables include an abbreviated LIT review, a poster and a power point out brief.

Students live on-campus and additional oversight and informal social programs are provided by the program managers.

The program is aimed at students from STEM majors and they may choose their area of study from a list of provided research profiles.  Participation from rising sophomores to rising seniors is permitted.


Power and Energy Research Opportunities for Veterans

Contact: Dave Hankins (; 765-494-9816)

Cadet/Midshipmen Summer Research Program

Summer 2019

1) Next-Generation Thermal Management Systems for High-Power Naval Electronics (Dr. Justin Weibel). 

Emerging semiconductor technologies can enable enhanced mission capabilities, but require radical revision of existing cooling architectures to accommodate increased device power densities. Efficient thermal management of electronics is also critical to operation of electrified vehicles, renewable energy technologies, data centers, and other computational systems. Your internship in the NEPTUNE Center for Power and Energy Research will explore issues related to the development and insertion of novel techniques for high-performance heat removal from compact spaces, through combined experimental and modeling approaches.  Our current project is related to obtaining a better understanding of the failure mechanisms present in two-phase thermal management systems.

Preferred academic backgrounds include: Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering, or Chemical Engineering.

2) Low Cost Catalyst for Portable Hydrogen Generation and On-demand Power (Dr. Timothee Pourpoint). 

Our armed forces can be wounded or killed in battle because of the weight and unwieldiness of the batteries they carry. Our objectives are to provide Marines with a highly reliable way to recharge their common 3.1 lb batteries with a system weighing less than 1 lb under storage and the ability to trigger that system with nearly any water source. By the end of the 3-year effort, and with our industrial partner’s expertise with Special Forces equipment, our goal is to have a field-ready system. Additional Navy and commercial sector opportunities, including for emergency first responders, cell phone emergency power, and recreational use, are also of great interest to the team. The development of the Portable Hydrogen Generation system into a field ready system and the characterization of the acid catalyzed hydrolysis of ammonia borane is a great opportunity to develop unique skill sets in chemistry, chemical engineering, and particularly in the upcoming three years, fuel cell technologies, mechanical engineering and design.

Preferred academic backgrounds include: Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering, or Chemical Engineering.

3) Laser assisted large-scale manufacturing of nano-architectured composites for high energy density and high power output Li-ion batteries (Dr. Gary Cheng and Dr. Kejie Zhao). Cadet / Midshipman will work with the team to  design and fabricate nano-architectured nanocomposites for high-performance Li-ion batteries.   Researchers will be trained the interdisciplinary skills of large-scale material processing, electrochemical characterization, in-situ experimentation, finite element modeling, and quantum-mechanics/molecular dynamics simulations.The research will address manufacturing challenges of simultaneously improve the mechanical property and electrochemical property of electrode for Li-Ion battery.   The electro-chemo-mechanical properties will be characterized by in-situ experiments and multi-scale modeling.  Preferred academic backgrounds include materials science, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering.  Interested applicants can reach the PIs by or

4) Battery Electrode Synthesis, Testing, Safety and in situ Diagnostics (Tom Adams/Corey Love/Vilas Pol/Vikas Tomar).

Cadet-Midshipman will work with an interdisciplinary team with expertise in lithium ion battery manufacturing, in-situ nanomechanical testing, and battery health management. Focus of the summer study is on hands-on-training in manufacturing of energy devices, hands-on-training in in-situ chemical and mechanical diagnostics, and device performance analysis. Cadet/Midshipman will be exposed to a variety of spectroscopic measurements and electron microscopy measurement techniques. Exposure also includes training in chemical handing of new types of energy materials and develop of new processing methods.

Preferred academic backgrounds include:  Mechanical Engineering + Systems Engineering Mechanics; Chemistry; Chemical Engineering; Physics; Nuclear Engineering; Aeronautical Engineering; Astronautical Engineering + Space Ops.

5) Correlating chemical composition of aviation fuel to physical and chemical properties and performance for the rational development of alternative fuels (Dr. Hilkka Kenttämaa, Dr. Gozdem Kilaz and Dr. Rodney Trice) 

Replacing petroleum-derived fuels with resilient fuels has reached national priority status. To reach this goal, it is imperative that the physical and chemical properties of resilient fuels are comparable to those of petroleum-derived fuels. These properties are dictated by the fuel’s chemical composition. Our current goals are to identify and quantify compounds present in different fuels by using several analytical instruments (i.e., GCxGC/(EI)TOF MS). Our group uses this vital information to predict how the chemical composition of new, resilient fuels will influence their physical and chemical properties and the overall performance of an aircraft. For example, we have developed a testing rig to explore how aromatic compounds in fuel influence the propensity to swell o-ring seals in fuel circulation systems of an aircraft. Students will have the opportunity to contribute to a wide range of projects in our group. Such projects include, but are not limited to a) determination how mixtures of aromatic compounds influence o-ring swelling, b) testing complete tensile strength of o-ring seals immersed in fuel samples c) measuring physical and chemical properties (i.e., density, freezing point) of surrogate mixtures, d) creating a database to correlate fuel chemical composition with properties, e) using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify and quantify compounds present in fuel samples and f) study the effects of bioimpurities on ceramic thermally cycled surfaces. Students will be trained and mentored in projects they are interested in so no experience in projects mentioned above is required.

Preferred academic backgrounds include: Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Aviation Technology, Aeronautical Engineering.  

6) Beta-gallium oxide for naval RF power electronics applications (Prof. Peide D. Ye and Prof. Peter Bermel, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Birck Nanotechnology Center).

With increasing interest in electrical drive for vehicles, plus an increasing array of electronic devices, power electronics now play an important role in many technologies. While new power electronic materials such as gallium nitride have recently emerged, another class of materials, known as ultra-wide bandgap semiconductors, have potential for even higher power conversion efficiencies and speeds. One specific candidate material is known as beta-gallium oxide. In this project, we will study the properties of this material, particularly with respect to its surface. While certain techniques for improving performance have been built and tested by our group, we will use complementary techniques to explore a broader range of possibilities. If successful, this effort may lead to a major improvement in DoD electronic systems, including radars and communication, electrical drives, plus navigation and munition electronics.

Preferred academic backgrounds are in Electrical Engineering, Physics, or Mechanical Engineering, with particular emphasis on semiconductor devices and materials.

Contact Information

Dave Hankins
Senior Project Manager
Purdue Military Research Institute