A Gateway to Undergraduate Simulation-Based Research in Materials Science and Related Fields

Tanya A. Faltens, Purdue University
Peter A. Bermel, Purdue University
Amanda Buckles, Purdue University
K Anna Douglas, Purdue University
Alejandro H. Strachan, Purdue University
Lynn K. Zentner, Purdue University
Gerhard Klimeck, Purdue University

Date of this Version



Tanya A. Faltens, Peter Bermel, Amanda Buckles, K. Anna Douglas, Alejandro Strachan, Lynn K. Zentner and Gerhard Klimeck (2015). A Gateway to Undergraduate Simulation-Based Research in Materials Science and Related Fields. MRS Proceedings, 1762, mrsf14-1762-aaa06-05 doi:10.1557/opl.2015.80.


Our future engineers and scientists will likely be required to use advanced simulations to solve many of tomorrow's challenges in nanotechnology. To prepare students to meet this need, the Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN) provides simulation-focused research experiences for undergraduates at an early point in their educational path, to increase the likelihood that they will ultimately complete a doctoral program. The NCN summer research program currently serves over 20 undergraduate students per year who are recruited nationwide, and selected by NCN and the faculty for aptitude in their chosen field within STEM, as well as complementary skills such as coding and written communication. Under the guidance of graduate student and faculty mentors, undergraduates modify or build nanoHUB simulation tools for exploring interdisciplinary problems in materials science and engineering, and related fields. While the summer projects exist within an overarching research context, the specific tasks that NCN undergraduate students engage in range from modifying existing tools to building new tools for nanoHUB and using them to conduct original research. Simulation tool development takes place within nanoHUB, using nanoHUB’s workspace, computational clusters, and additional training and educational resources. One objective of the program is for the students to publish their simulation tools on nanoHUB. These tools can be accessed and executed freely from around the world using a standard web-browser, and students can remain engaged with their work beyond the summer and into their careers. In this work, we will describe the NCN model for undergraduate summer research. We believe that our model is one that can be adopted by other universities, and will discuss the potential for others to engage undergraduate students in simulation-based research using free nanoHUB resources.


Engineering Education | Other Materials Science and Engineering