Summer Research Adventures

Originally Posted on October 1st, 2018

Student participants i the Secondary Student Training Program

Top: IIHR’s James Buchholz, a faculty member in mechanical engineering, talks with high school student Aadil Manazir, who participated in the Secondary Student Training Program over the summer. Middle: Yihan Shi poses with her summer research project on water flows around a spherical object under different flow depths. Bottom: Virginia Canestraight shows off her work on the air wake of a naval vessel.

What did you do on your summer vacation?

The high school students who came to the University of Iowa this summer for the Belin-Blank Center’s Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP) will have quite a story to tell about their summer adventure in Iowa City.

Yihan Shi, Aadil Manazir, and Virginia Canestraight spent five and a half weeks working in the new Fluids Exploration Laboratory at the University of Iowa, conducting research on subjects such as fluid mechanics and vortex structures. Under the guidance of James Buchholz, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, these three students have had the chance to explore complex questions and conduct real research.

“We were catapulted to this really advanced level,” says Canestraight, who is from Michigan. She studied the air wake of a naval vessel — how air moves over the shape of a ship. Understanding these air flows will help researchers know when it’s safe for helicopters to land on a ship’s flight deck. “This was a first for me,” she says. “I’ve learned so much about it, and I think it’s really interesting.”

Buchholz says these three students have done surprisingly advanced work. “I’m very pleased with their efforts,” he says. “They show amazing promise.”

Manazir, a resident of Iowa, studied vortices on the leading edge of a delta wing. “A vortex is a mini-tornado and can generate lift,” he says. “I’m looking at what contributes to the strength of that.” Connecticut resident Shi took on a project looking at how water flows around a spherical object under different flow depths. Conducting research in this area was a first for her, and she says it was exciting.

Each student created a poster about his or her work and made a short presentation. But it wasn’t all work — the students got to try out residential life on a college campus and participate in fun weekend activities.

“I made a lot of new friends,” Manazir says. “It was really fun hanging out with them.” Shi agrees, and says she didn’t expect so many fun activities in a serious research program. “There’s a surprise every weekend!” she says. She especially enjoyed a trip to the Crystal Lake Cave near Dubuque. They also went to museums and water parks.

All three students are excited to further pursue their research dreams. The SSTP program gave them a chance to try out the role of researcher in a supportive environment. “It was a lot more work than I was expecting,” Canestraight says. “This was a really good taste of what [conducting research] is actually like.”