Since 2017, Purdue University Northwest’s (PNW) Days of Discovery event has combined student and faculty research into a single, large event. The first day of this year’s Days of Discovery event was hosted at PNW’s Westville campus inside the James B. Dworkin Student Services and Activities Complex Great Hall. The rooms sported a colorful collection of posters showcasing the findings of many different research projects underway at PNW.
While PNW has hosted research days prior to the creation of Days of Discovery, this event has enabled students and faculty to present both their collaborative and individual research projects at the same time and same venue.
“It's very important to have the faculty and students work together. More often than not, there's this natural collaboration happening in various ways, so it's more natural to have them present and work together rather than separately,” said Director of Research and Sponsored Programs Maja Marjanovic.
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Tom Liu was involved in two different research projects represented at Days of Discovery and appreciated that the event fosters not only student development but also faculty development.
“It's a learning process in both ways; I’m learning from the students as they learn from me,” Liu said. “From this process, I was able to educate a student and help him become a better engineer and scientist in the future. And in the meantime, we were able to add some new components to the community and to have students participate and appreciate the value of PNW.”
For one of his projects, Liu collaborated with students Arshad Salman and Herminio Serguei, who took the lead on presenting their findings at the event.
“Our project is about solar radiation measurement in high altitude,” Salman said. “We are going to use a parameter and to launch that, we are using weather balloons. Based on this project, we understand that if we ever launch the air panels in the atmosphere, they can capture more solar energy than on the ground.”
“For me, the most rewarding part is the idea that we can think outside the box,” Serguei said. “We are very used to seeing the PV solar panels now, but for this project, our main goal is to actually send spaceships to the sky. I don't think something like that has ever been done. It makes me happy knowing that I'm working on this.”
In addition to aiding the spirit of collaboration, Days of Discovery provided space to explore a rich variety of subjects ranging from scientific to psychological topics. Student Delia Booker presented findings in her areas of interest, psychology and sociology, after her professor recommended she participate in the event. Deciding to take her professor’s advice, Booker found presenting her findings to others to be an enriching experience.
“I’ve learned a lot; it's been sobering to look into all the research and statistics for my project and finding out there's a lot that needs to be done and that there's very limited research," Booker said. "This has really helped me decide that this is something I want to continue looking into through my career path.” For more information about PNW’s Days of Discovery event and research opportunities at the university, visit pnw.edu/research.