Young Scholars Summer Research Program

The Young Scholars program is an opportunity for high school students to advance their goal of pursing higher education. Our scholars receive the opportunity to participate in an authentic research experience at world class research university, under the mentorship of a faculty member or graduate student. Scholars additionally receive one-on-one coaching and advising from a teacher mentor, who help coach the student through their research experience. Additionally, students participate in weekly seminars on various topics including research projects, college-readiness, and scientific communication. The ultimate goal of this program is to make students feel comfortable in a university setting, form a science identity and gain confidence in attending college. The summer of 2017 is our pilot year for the Young Scholars Program at the University of Illinois.

For more information please contact: Joe Muskin ( and Dr. Jessica Perez (

Young Scholar Calendar of Events

Summer 2017 Projects

Project 1: Enhanced condensation heat transfer of low surface tension fluids

Principle Investigator: Professor Nenad Miljkovic

Research Group Website:

Research Mentor: Soumyadip ‘Deep’ Sett

Project Description: Condensation is a phase change phenomenon often encountered in nature, as well as in industry for applications including power generation, thermal management, desalination, and environmental control. For the past eight decades, researchers have focused on creating surfaces allowing condensed droplets to be easily removed by gravity for enhanced heat transfer performance. Recent advancements in nanofabrication have enabled increased control of surface structuring for the development of superhydrophobic surfaces with even higher droplet mobility and, in some cases, coalescence-induced droplet jumping. At the Energy Transport Research Lab, we are theoretically and experimentally studying superhydrophobic and oleophobic surfaces for enhanced condensation heat transfer for water and refrigerant based condensation systems. We work on identifying challenges and new opportunities to advance these surfaces for broad implementation into thermo-fluidic systems.


Project 2: Mechanical design and control of a valve for a thermal fluid experimental testbed

Principle Investigator: Professor Andrew Alleyne

Research Group Website:

Research Mentor: Malia Kawamura (and Sunny Sharma)

Project Description: The Alleyne Research Group research focuses on dynamic modeling of complex systems as well as the development and implementation of advanced control algorithms on a number of different experimental testbeds. As vehicle electrification increases, thermal management has become increasingly important. To study the challenges imposed by increasing power and thermal demands, we have developed a thermal fluid experimental testbed. The testbed emulates features of power flow systems and serves as preliminary validation for advanced control architectures. The experimental testbed currently consists of pumps, heat exchangers, reservoirs, tubes, a chiller, and sensors. Next, we would like to add valves to the system. This hands-on experimental project will focus on the mechanical design and electronic programming of how to automatically control the position of a valve.

Project 3: Modeling and Analysis of High-Performance, 3D Power Converters

Principle Investigator: Professor Robert Pilawa

Research Group Website:

Research Mentor: Nathan Pallo

The Pilawa Research Group explores the design, control, and analysis of power electronics systems, and their use in achieving efficient and reliable energy conversion, generation, and use. By combining new circuit topologies, digital control methods and new semiconductor devices (such as gallium nitride and silicon carbide transistors), we are attempting to push the frontier in efficiency and size for inverters and rectifiers in a wide range of applications, from solar inverters and electric aircrafts to server power supplies. While this project will provide ample hands-on opportunities in the development of hardware prototypes and custom test equipment, a key focus will be to use CAD software to develop 3D models of converter hardware and components for use in design and analysis. These models are specifically valuable as the design of high-density 3D circuits and mechanical assemblies require precise consideration of component volumes during the design and layout to maximize space utilization. Furthermore, these models will be used in finite element analysis to consider tradeoffs in thermal performance, airflow, circuit parasitics and mechanical stresses to better inform the hardware prototype design.