Presidential Doctoral Research Fellows
Some engineers dream of finding their work on the list of the world’s greatest engineering achievements. Others set their sights on a different path: improving engineering education. Presidential Doctoral Research Fellow Benjamin Call left a well-paying industry job to do just that; to improve engineering curriculum through research at Utah State University. Call, who is working to complete his third USU degree, seeks to improve engineering education by finding better ways to help students strengthen their spatial ability. “(It’s been) known for decades that people with high spatial ability are good at engineering and mechanics and things like that, but no one’s looked at what part of the curriculum depends on that,” he said.
It would be unfair to say Boyang Wang, one of Utah State University’s Presidential Doctoral Research Fellows, has his head in the clouds; rather, he has his head in the cloud. Wang, a computer science student who is researching the encryption and outsourcing of data and computations on the cloud—services and software that run on the Internet instead of a computer—said that security and privacy is a bigger need and concern now than ever. “The cloud contains a lot of vulnerabilities, and it’s so hard to contain against all of them,” Wang said. “Unfortunately, there will always be hackers trying to hack into the cloud, looking for sensitive information to sell or disseminate into society to cause a negative impact.”
It’s mid-summer in the North Slope of Alaska. The sun hangs low on the horizon, seemingly always shining, but never beating down enough to melt they permafrost and frozen bed of the Kuparuk River. This is where Presidential Doctorate Research Fellow Tyler King makes his home in the summer, studying the dynamics of the energy balance between river temperature, its surroundings and climate change. “There’s no down time,” King said. “In the field you are working 6 days a week, twelve to eighteen hours a day. It’s nonstop. Because the sun doesn’t set, you don’t feel tired so you keep on working.” Now back analyzing data at the USU Water Research Laboratory, downstream from the first dam of the Logan River, King says that there is even more to do in analyzing his data. He and the team he is working with are thoroughly engrossed in questions about water temperature: What are the pathways of energy entering and leaving the river? How does the river gain heat from the air and sunlight? How much heat does it in turn transfer to the surrounding environment? “We’re there in the field every day measuring water discharge, temperature and depth,” King said. “The ultimate goal is to be able to predict river temperature in the future given different climate conditions.”