Mechanical Engineering Major Works to Adopt New Technology & Prototyping in Structural Engineering

Harrison Lancaster, junior mechanical engineering major, is working outside of his standard field this summer in order to impress upon future generations how buildings react to changes in the environment, like earthquakes.

Lancaster is participating in the Seaver College Summer Opportunities for Advanced Research (SOAR), a six-week summer research program that pairs students with faculty mentors to engage in hands-on research that deepens the student’s academic experience and analytical skills.

Lancaster is working with mentor, Sunai Kim, professor in Civil Engineering, on the research project, “Adopting New Technology & Prototyping in Structural Engineering,” which is focused on creating a miniature version of a building model that will be able to show students of all ages how buildings are constructed and what an environmental impact, like earthquake, does to a building.

“When students have this more natural understanding of the buildings we construct in our cities, they will hopefully be more critical in their assessment of the world around them,” said Lancaster.

A benefit of this research program and structure is the direct work, advising and communication with the paired faculty mentor.

“Professor Kim has been not only a professional mentor and teacher to me, but she is also an excellent resource for me for talking about life in general,” said Lancaster. “She has encouraged me to pursue all of my interests, not just those of mine that pertain to engineering directly.”

Lancaster has been able to work with other research students under Dr. Kim and has really enjoyed the collaboration and teamwork that has encompassed the project.

“An unexpected outcome from the research up to this point is the bond I have formed with my research group. Collectively, we work very well together in terms of having group discussions and taking things at face value,” said Lancaster. “My biggest takeaway is to keep trying. While the results may not always be exactly what was expected or desired, they always provide some clue about which direction to move in next.”