Encourage Girls to Study Engineering

An NSF Sponsored Experiment Benefits Local High School Female Students at University of Houston

Metal can change its shape upon heating and fluids can almost turn into solid when exposed to a magnetic field. More surprisingly, these two materials work together and control vibrations of a model building. These are what attract the attention of twenty high school female students during a demonstration of the Smart Vibration Platform (NSF CCLI-EMD Grant No. 0341143; PI: Dr. G. Song) in Smart Materials and Structures Laboratory at University and Houston. Shown in the figure below is the demonstration of the platform by Mr. Claudio Olmi, a graduate student advised by Dr. Song, to high schools girls in the GRADE (Girls Reaching and Demonstrating Excellence) Camp at University of Houston in the summer of 2005. The GRADE Camp is organized by Cullen College of Engineering at University of Houston to introduce the marvels of engineering to high school. Through this demonstration, girls happily learned the basic concepts of shape memory alloy, Magneto-Rheological (MR) fluids, vibration damping and control, resonance, and dynamics systems.

With a grant from National Science Foundation (NSF) (NSF CCLI-EMD Grant No. 0341143), Dr. Song, an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering at University of Houston , developed a smart vibration platform, whose stiffness and damping can be magically adjusted by using two smart materials: shape memory alloy and Magneto-Rheological (MR) fluid. The controllable stiffness of the platform is done by using shape memory alloy wires whose stiffness changes with temperature, which can be controlled using electrical current. A Magneto-Rheological (MR) fluid damper, whose damping can be adjusted though an electromagnet, offers the platform adjustable damping. This vibration platform can perform multiple vivid demonstrations such as onset of resonance, effect of the system stiffness on the resonance frequency, effect of damping ratio on the occurrence of resonance, structural vibration damping using MR fluid damper, structural vibration control using shape memory alloy brace, and many others.

Mr. Claudio Olmi, a graduate student advised by Professor Song, demonstrating the smart vibration platform to high school girls at University of Houston.
The smart vibration platform developed at University of Houston with funding from NSF.