Research Opportunities

Research Opportunities

Our department is home to innovative research in a variety of areas, including applied solid mechanics, biomechanical & biomedical engineering, computational engineering, energy & environment, fluid mechanics, manufacturing automation & robotics, mechatronics & instrumentation, and naval architecture & marine engineering. Faculty and student research impacts the fields of energy, health, manufacturing public policy, sustainability, transportation, and more.

Research is generally associated with graduate students in the department, but for undergraduate students who wish to get involved, there are technical electives offered in the areas of certain professors’ specialties. Availability of these courses will depend on student interest and may change from year to year. For information on the various research groups our faculty members are part of, and the projects our faculty members are working on, visit the Research Section of our website.

Please see the following research opportunities for undergraduates:

MECH 493 is an undergraduate course specifically designed to introduce fourth-year students to academic research. To apply for this course, students submit a research proposal, typically related to the work of a supervising professor. They then use this course, and the guidance of their supervisor(s), to prepare a research thesis. For more information on MECH 493, please visit their wiki: MECH 493: Introduction to Academic Research

Undergrads interested in research should consider our exciting new CREATE-U program!  Combining Research Experience and Technical Electives for Undergraduates (CREATE-U) is a new immersive, cohort-based experience featuring research education opportunities in Mechanical Engineering.

Open to Mechanical Engineering undergraduates, CREATE-U is a unique opportunity to complete 6 credits of course work + a research project in the summer. Students are paid a minimum of $6000 for the summer work term and can count it towards co-op. The applicants are chosen based off a diverse selection criteria – it’s not just about grades. There are up to 10 spaces available in the summer cohort!

CREATE-U has the following elements:

  • Course 1 (3 credits): MECH 497 Research Skills and Data Analysis;
  • Course 2 (3 credits): MECH 498/500C Research Communication;
  • A paid research project work term within a Mech research lab that can count as a co-op work term, with support from graduate student mentors;
  • A supportive structure, including welcome events, networking events, and a fall poster session (may be virtual).

CREATE-U is unique as it integrates and coordinates coursework with individualized, authentic research lab experiences. A supportive structure and courses with modern pedagogical practices help students bring together technical skills and knowledge with communication skills, interpersonal skills, ethics, equity, diversity and inclusion, and other key competencies. Classroom topics can be immediately applied, and course learning outcomes (including a research poster presentation) encourage students to disseminate their work.

Need more information?

Information Session

An information session will be hosted later in the term before applications open in December. 

Second year students will receive information about their information session on Canvas.  Third and fourth year students are encouraged to read the 2022 slides here for last year's detailed program description, application and matching process, course descriptions, program timeline, project examples, and more, then contact jen@mech.ubc.ca with any questions or to set up a discussion about the program.

How to apply

Applications for the Summer 2023 cohort will open in December 2022

Apply online: application portal to come 

Your application should include:

  • Your answer to these four questions:
    1. What motivated you to apply for CREATE-U?
    2. What is something you are (or have been) curious about? How have you explored this interest?
    3. Describe a challenge you have faced - academically, professionally, or personally - and how you overcame it.
    4. Describe a problem you had that did not have an obvious path to a solution. What did you do?
  • Your unofficial transcript,
  • A ranking of the available projects in order of your preference. View 2022S CREATE-U Opportunities.

The minimum GPA required is a 76% average in 200-level and higher courses, with the exception of students in Year 2, whose GPA will include 100-level courses.

The NSERC USRA program is an excellent way for undergraduate students to gain exposure to university research. It can also help students decide if they want to pursue research in the future, whether through graduate studies or industrial research positions. The program is open to Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have completed all required first year engineering courses, hold a cumulative average of at least 68% (note that the competitive average is usually above 80%) and who have not started graduate studies (although you can hold a USRA for the term directly after your graduation requirements are met). Students do not need to be in mechanical engineering to work with a mechanical engineering professor.

Instructions on how students can apply for the award are available online

 

Application packages for Summer 2022 - Spring 2023 awards are due to Mechanical Engineering Student Services (students@mech.ubc.ca) by Sunday, March 13th at 11:59 PM.

 

When applying, please be advised of the following points:

  1. All applications must first be submitted electronically directly to NSERC, including the upload of transcripts. A copy of your Form 202 (Parts I and II),  transcript, cover letter, and resume are also required to be submitted to the Mechanical Engineering Student Services Office electronically as a PDF addressed to students@mech.ubc.ca
  2. Student-faculty pairs should apply together to the department of the faculty member.
  3. International Students - Work Learn International Undergraduate Research Award Program may also be available. For more information and the deadlines, please refer to https://students.ubc.ca/career/campus-experiences/undergraduate-research/work-learn-international-undergraduate-research-awards

The following links are also useful during the USRA application process:

NSERC’s website

NSERC USRA Information Page

NSERC USRA Openings

Openings will be posted as they are received.

Supervisor Name:  Dr. Masoud Daneshi
Preferred Contact Method: masoud.daneshi@ubc.ca
Deadline to Apply: March 2nd
Project Name: Trapping bubbles in gels
Project Description: The oil sands industry is both a significant contributor to the Canadian economy and is widely regarded as a cause of adverse environmental effects, e.g. it has been estimated to account for 10% of GHG emission in Canada. Recent studies show that anaerobic microorganisms contribute to the degradation of Naphtha hydrocarbons and naphthenic acids in the FFT and MFT layers of oil sands tailings ponds, producing methane and CO2, both potential causes of GHG emissions. The FFT and MFT layers are colloidal suspensions, which behave like viscoplastic fluids with time-dependent rheology: changing both with age and depth in the pond. The key feature of a viscoplastic fluid is its yield stress: the material flows only if the imposed stress exceeds the yield stress. This raises questions regarding the stability of bubbles, which are trapped in a yield stress fluid.

Previously, we performed a series of experiments with a model yield stress fluid, Carbopol gel, to study the onset of motion of bubbles. We would like to continue this project with some other laboratory yield stress fluids, i.e. Laponite and Kaolinite suspension, which are considered as better models for tailings material. Besides, we'd like to extend our study to the bubbles migration in a yield stress fluid including networks of angled 'damaged' layers within which the yield stress is destroyed. This might model the effect of non-uniform rheology of the tailings material or/and the presence of water chimneys on the stability and migration of bubbles in the tailing ponds.

We are seeking a student to work on two subprojects: (i) the growth and stability of bubbles in several different viscoplastic fluids; (ii) bubbles migration towards and along damaged networks in a yield stress fluid. This might lead to fundamental understanding of how the rheology of the fluid, shear history of the fluid, and interaction between the stress field around the bubbles affect the onset of motion and bubbles propagation.

What You Will Do:

The students will assist in all operations related with the experiment: fluid preparation, characterizing the rheology of the fluids, performing experiments and image processing. The students will learn the physical background to the experiments and may help in design of new components and implement changes to the current apparatus.

Supervision Received:

The student will work under the day-to-day supervision of Dr. Masoud Daneshi in complex fluids lab, LSK, UBC.

Special requirements: (department, GPA, specific courses, year level, skills): We prefer a student with good lab skills interested in physical understanding of fluids. GPA to meet NSERC USRA/WLIURA requirements.

Ideally the candidate would have lab experience e.g. in an engineering discipline or physics. We prefer those who has experience in instrumentation, Labview programming and imaging and are familiar with Matlab and SolidWorks.

Position duration (ie. May to Aug, 2022) May-August 2022, possible extension to a 2nd semester of coop
Total pay including award: $6,000 award + $3000 top-up
Will you still hire for position if the student does not receive the NSERC USRA award?: Potentially yes

 

Work Learn International Undergraduate Research Awards (WLIURA) allow undergraduate international students to gain relevant work experience in the research field by working a full-time paid term from May to August.

Openings will be posted as they are received.

Supervisor Name:  Dr. Masoud Daneshi
Preferred Contact Method: masoud.daneshi@ubc.ca
Deadline to Apply: March 2nd
Project Name: Trapping bubbles in gels
Project Description: The oil sands industry is both a significant contributor to the Canadian economy and is widely regarded as a cause of adverse environmental effects, e.g. it has been estimated to account for 10% of GHG emission in Canada. Recent studies show that anaerobic microorganisms contribute to the degradation of Naphtha hydrocarbons and naphthenic acids in the FFT and MFT layers of oil sands tailings ponds, producing methane and CO2, both potential causes of GHG emissions. The FFT and MFT layers are colloidal suspensions, which behave like viscoplastic fluids with time-dependent rheology: changing both with age and depth in the pond. The key feature of a viscoplastic fluid is its yield stress: the material flows only if the imposed stress exceeds the yield stress. This raises questions regarding the stability of bubbles, which are trapped in a yield stress fluid.

Previously, we performed a series of experiments with a model yield stress fluid, Carbopol gel, to study the onset of motion of bubbles. We would like to continue this project with some other laboratory yield stress fluids, i.e. Laponite and Kaolinite suspension, which are considered as better models for tailings material. Besides, we'd like to extend our study to the bubbles migration in a yield stress fluid including networks of angled 'damaged' layers within which the yield stress is destroyed. This might model the effect of non-uniform rheology of the tailings material or/and the presence of water chimneys on the stability and migration of bubbles in the tailing ponds.

We are seeking a student to work on two subprojects: (i) the growth and stability of bubbles in several different viscoplastic fluids; (ii) bubbles migration towards and along damaged networks in a yield stress fluid. This might lead to fundamental understanding of how the rheology of the fluid, shear history of the fluid, and interaction between the stress field around the bubbles affect the onset of motion and bubbles propagation.

What You Will Do:

The students will assist in all operations related with the experiment: fluid preparation, characterizing the rheology of the fluids, performing experiments and image processing. The students will learn the physical background to the experiments and may help in design of new components and implement changes to the current apparatus.

Supervision Received:

The student will work under the day-to-day supervision of Dr. Masoud Daneshi in complex fluids lab, LSK, UBC.

Special requirements: (department, GPA, specific courses, year level, skills): We prefer a student with good lab skills interested in physical understanding of fluids. GPA to meet NSERC USRA/WLIURA requirements.

Ideally the candidate would have lab experience e.g. in an engineering discipline or physics. We prefer those who has experience in instrumentation, Labview programming and imaging and are familiar with Matlab and SolidWorks.

Position duration (ie. May to Aug, 2022) May-August 2022, possible extension to a 2nd semester of coop
Total pay including award: $6,000 award + $3000 top-up
Will you still hire for position if the student does not receive the NSERC USRA award?: Potentially yes