Session A: 9AM – 10:30AM

Engineering. Session A – Oral Presentations, Henriksen, Alumni House

SESSION A (9:00-10:30AM)
Location: Henriksen Room, Alumni House



Synthesis and Characterization of Clickable Polyproline Based Materials
Clara Coffey, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor Dr. Jessica Kramer, University of Utah

SESSION A 9:00-9:15AM
Henriksen Room (1st floor), Alumni House

Mucus, collagen, and proteoglycans serve crucial roles in the human body, yet current research on these structures is limited. Mucus is the interface and first line of defense to the world around us; it lubricates and hydrates epithelial surfaces, houses the microbiome, and allows for the diffusion of drugs and nutrients while trapping pathogens by acting as a selectively permeable membrane. Mucus is a hydrogel made primarily of water and ions and is 5-9wt% glycoproteins, known as mucins. These mucins are characterized by high molecular weight repeat domains rich in proline and O-glycosylated serine and threonine (PTS domains). Proline, an amino acid contributing to the rigidity of proteins, possesses unique properties in mucus, collagen, and proteoglycans. Despite polyproline-based materials having additional applications including surface coatings, hydrogels, antithrombotics, as ordered materials, and in probing protein structure, current mucin research is limited to reconstituted mucins, often from intestinal scrapings of farm animals. These glycoproteins vary greatly between samples in both structure and chemistry due to inherent heterogeneity in mucins between species, tissues, and pathologies. In response, we have synthesized the building blocks of proline-based mucin, collagen, and proteoglycan mimics working towards allowing for the modeling of mucins and mucus, structure-function relationships, related diseases, and novel lubricating therapeutics. Through N-carboxyanhydride polymerization, we have synthesized three proline analog polypeptides. These analogs support the exploration of simpler materials to create a synthetic PTS domain and capture hydrophilic PPII structure. Our findings will be advantageous in next steps exploring azide-alkyne cycloaddition “click” reactions of these proline analogs with sugars in exploring structure-function relationships, the contributions of individual amino acid residues, and sugar and glycan patterns in mucin function.



Electromyography Controlled Robotic Leg Prosthesis  for Individuals with Above/Knee Amputations
Suzi Creveling, University of Utah

Faculty Mentor Tommaso Lenzi, University of Utah

SESSION A 9:20-9:35AM
Henriksen Room (1st floor), Alumni House

Every 5 minutes, a person in the U.S. loses their ability to move due to a lower limb amputation. Even the best available prostheses cannot move like biological legs, lacking the ability to actively generate movements and provide power during gait. Due to these limitations, even performing simple activities like walking and climbing stairs become very challenging for individuals with amputation. Emerging robotic leg prostheses have the potential to address these limitations. By using motors, batteries, and controls, robotic prostheses have the potential to move similarly to biological legs. However, available robotic leg prostheses controllers perform prerecorded movements that are disconnected from the user’s intentions to move. Therefore, amputees have no voluntary control of their prosthetic leg. The goal of my undergraduate research is to connect the human neural systems with robotic leg prostheses to give amputees voluntary control. To accomplish this goal, I propose using non-invasive, surface electromyography, the measurement of muscle activations. Using electromyography, I can measure the muscle activations in the residual limb, the remaining part of the leg after amputation. These muscle contractions encode the user’s intention to move the missing lower limb. For example, a contraction of the residual quadriceps, when the foot is off the ground, encodes the intention of the user to swing the leg forward. Based on this idea, I developed a neural controller that allows robotic prostheses to perform movements intended by the user. I tested this controller with three individuals with an above-knee amputation. The test included daily activities like walking and climbing stairs using the robotic leg prosthesis. The proposed neural controller enabled the users to walk, climb up and down stairs, stand up and sit down by controlling the prosthesis movements with their muscle contractions. This study provides new evidence that voluntary control of lower limb prosthetics is possible. Electromyography and neural control have the potential to revolutionize the field of prosthetics by giving amputees voluntary control of their prostheses.


Modeling Coupled Thermomechanical Systems for Refill Friction Stir Spot Welding (RFSSW)
Jacob Hansen, Brigham Young University

Faculty Mentor Yuri Hovanski, Brigham Young University

SESSION A 9:40-9:55AM
Henriksen Room (1st floor), Alumni House

Refill Friction Stir Spot Welding (RFSSW) as a novel joining technique has the ability to open the door to allow for the joining of materials previously thought difficult or impossible to join by conventional processes. RFSSW incorporates the friction welding physics of traditional linear friction stir welding and has already proven very effective in joining aluminum and similar materials. In recent years much of the development has been funded by aerospace and automotive industries. However, studies regarding the thermomechanical outcomes of RFSSW are very limited in both quantity and scope. Previous studies have investigated thermal and mechanical models separately; however, the majority of these studies were within the scope of Linear Friction Stir Welding (FSW). Further research into the thermomechanical characteristics are critical to the development of RFSSW. This research seeks to improve the feasibility by which to digitally model, and predict the thermomechanical characteristics created during the RFSSW process. This research utilized Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to help realize its objective. The objective of the investigation was to developed realistic predictive models for RFSSW on Aluminum lap joints. Several models, iterations, and weld orders were developed. Models were validated in part by previous work done by Wichita State University. Accurate thermal models where developed and the mechanical models developed (while not numerically accurate) where accurate when comparing distortion caused by different welds orders. This indicates that with further development and research fully articulate predictive models could be developed. This would greatly advance the field RFSSW as experiments could be realized digitally before moving to the physical stage, saving time, money, and resources.


User-Friendly Music Theory Application for Education and Analysis
Anita Riddle, Salt Lake Community College
Sierra Schmidt, Salt Lake Community College

Faculty Mentor Nick Safai, Salt Lake Community College

SESSION A 10:00-10:15AM
Henriksen Room (1st floor), Alumni House

Undergraduate students invented, built, and implemented a user-friendly computer and mobile phone tool that accelerates music education and analysis. A key enabler was collaboration among first- and second-year community college students of music and engineering. This is one of two unrelated projects by this undergraduate student research group. While in the classroom, a music student contrived the idea for the tool. The student reached out to engineering students with skills to program logic into a spreadsheet. The tool is used by students with positive reviews. Tonal music comprises the musical keys, scales, and chords used most since the 1600’s. Tonal music is complex and highly mathematical. Understanding music theory takes several semesters. Music analysis is time consuming. This user-friendly tool reduces the information that must be looked up in textbooks or committed to memory. SLCC music theory course material provided the data and numerical relationships for each musical key. Researchers input the relationships into mathematical databases and programmed handy look-up tables. Attractive features include:
(1) Tonal Music Guide: User types in the musical key; tool provides chords, notes, and typical chord sequences.
(2) Diatonic Post-Tonal Music Guide: User types in the name of collection. Tool offers proper ordering of notes in ionian, dorian, phrygian, lydian, mixolydian, aeolian, & locrian modes.
(3) Octatonic and Hexatonic Music Guide: User reads notes off the provided charts.
(4) Twelve Note Serialism Guide: User applies the tool to create a 12×12 matrix that offers proper note order.
Online research generated several music theory applications. However, none were free nor as focused for music theory academic studies nor for music analysis. Link to User-Friendly Music Theory tool:


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Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research 2023 - Program by Office of Undergraduate Research is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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