Cornell Engineering
 
 
Master of Engineering Projects
 
 

Welcome to the public site of Master of Engineering Projects

The separate MEng Projects site is for internal Cornell MEng use only. For more information on a project please request access from the 'Contact Person' listed for each project.

Note: some projects may not be listed due to restrictions.

       

Current MEng Projects

  • Title: A Whole Genome Knockout Collection for Vibrio natriegens
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Vibrio natriegens is a new genomic powerhouse for synthetic biology and directed evolution. However, it currently lacks the most useful tool for gene characterization for any organism: a whole genome knockout collection: a collection of single-gene knockout mutants for every non-essential in an organism’s genome. We will use Knockout Sudoku, a new technology developed by our team for making knockout collections at ultra-low-cost and high speed, to build a knockout collection for V. natriegens to learn how to fully leverage its potential.
    Contact Person: Barstow, Buz
  • Title: AguaClara: Sustainable Water Supply Project
    Department: CEE - Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Description: This fall we plan to release the first fully open source Python/Onshape design engine for AguaClara Infrastructure. AguaClara projects are developing in 5 countries (Honduras, India, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ethiopia), we are expanding the range of flow rates that our plants can treat, and we continue to develop improved understandings and designs of the treatment processes. We are especially looking for engineers with expertise in python and parametric design. This fall we plan to release the first fully open source Python/Onshape design engine for AguaClara Infrastructure. AguaClara projects are developing in 5 countries (Honduras, India, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ethiopia), we are expanding the range of flow rates that our plants can treat, and we continue to develop improved understandings and designs of the treatment processes. We are especially looking for engineers with expertise in python and parametric design.
    Contact Person: Tania Sharpsteen
  • Title: Algal Whole Genome Knockout Collection
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Photosynthesis gives a first draft template for capturing sunlight and storing it with CO2 as biomass at enormous scale, at low or even negative cost, with almost no human intervention. However, this scale belies its inefficiency (? 0.1% on average). Micro-algae are capable of the most efficient form of photosynthesis (conversion of CO2 and sunlight to carbohydrates) yet seen in nature. However, this efficiency is far from its theoretical maximum, nor has it been fully leveraged for the production of biofuels. A big barrier to improving algal photosynthesis further is the lack of genetic tools to characterize and then engineer the genomes of micro-algae. We have developed Knockout Sudoku, a new technology for rapid, ultra-low-cost construction of whole genome knockout collections: a collection of single-gene knockout mutants for every non-essential in an organism’s genome. We want to construct a whole genome knockout collection for micro-algae to fully leverage their potential.
    Contact Person: Barstow, Buz
  • Title: Analysis and Recommendations for Greenhouse Gas Neutrality and Building Renovation Policy in Ithaca - Ithaca Carbon Neutrality Team
    Department: SE - Systems Engineering
    Description: This large ongoing project is researching existing policies, programs & best practices in reducing greenhouse gas emissions of the city and the town of Ithaca serve as a role model for other US cities. Our project’s immediate goals are to help to find the most effective ways to move toward complete carbon neutrality for Ithaca by 2030. The City of Ithaca and the town of Ithaca are partnering with us as real-world stakeholders to implement this project’s findings. Key topics include determination of goals for greenhouse gas reduction, job opportunity, and possible adoption by a wide range of stakeholders in different socioeconomic groups including tenants, landlords, homeowners, etc. We are will be researching lifecycle analysis of GHG reductions, cost of programs, cost of compliance, workforce implications & other economic benefits, health & wellness benefits, and communication of our findings to the wide range of stakeholders, including the city, the town, and the public.
    Contact Person: Marcella Purcell
  • Title: Aquaponics
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Design optimization of combining hydroponic systems (plants and controlled environment) with recirculating aquaculture systems (fish). Objective is to maximize economic productivity while minimizing environmental impact. Subprojects include material science (solar transmissivity), bio-availability of macro and micro nutrients from fish to plants; ergometrics for hand labor; genetic development of select plants for target markets.
    Contact Person: Timmons, Michael
  • Title: Automatic detection, tracking, and classification of behavior of dairy cows
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: The need for quality care of dairy cows is essential. In the United States alone, the American Dairy Industry contributes forty billion dollars each year to the Growth Domestic Product. At least two billion dollars more could be added if dairy cows do not experience heat stress. This impact provides motivation to study of developing robust models for predicting heat stress for dairy cows to improve quality of life of livestock and decrease cost. One alternative to detect heat stressed cows is by visual observation of their behavior overtime. Dairy cows do not possess unique features (they are of similar color all around), they change form overtime, and move their limbs. These characteristics defying computer-vision detection and tracking algorithms. The goal of this project is to develop an algorithm to detect, track, and classify behavior of dairy cows in a farm setting. The student will be given dataset with images of cows and will be required to develop algorithms.
    Contact Person: Gebremedhin, Kifle
  • Title: Autonomous bicycle
    Department: MAE - Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    Description: U-grads, M-Eng and MS project to understand, make and develop a fly-by-wire bicycle and a robotic bicycle, as well as other bicycle like things.
    Contact Person: Judy Thoroughman
  • Title: Autonomous Sailboat
    Department: MAE - Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    Description: Designing and building a robotic sailboat for worldwide environmental monitoring.
    Contact Person: Judy Thoroughman
  • Title: Better rowing ergometer
    Department: MAE - Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    Description: Design and build a rowing simulator better than any existent simulators. For competetive rowers.
    Contact Person: Judy Thoroughman
  • Title: Building a better intestinal model
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: The intestinal tract serves as a primary vehicle for exposing humans and other animals to their surroundings. Technically, the length of the GI tract is outside the body and therefore has many mechanisms of both interacting with and protecting against the outside world. Research in understanding the GI tract and the microorganisms that live along its length is limited to animal and very simple in vitro models. This project will work on building a more realistic intestinal model, complete with the peristaltic motions that allow intestinal content to move through the body and that also serve to protect the host from bacterial invasion. Students with interests in mechanical models, the computer/model interface and intestinal biology should consider applying.
    Contact Person: March, John
  • Title: Building a crowdsourced app repository for simulation-based engineering design in food manufacturing
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: The application of physics-based simulation is prevalent in various industrial sectors starting from the aircraft industry to the electronic chip manufacturing industry. In the food manufacturing sector, the idea is slowly gaining traction but the greatest inhibitor to large scale application of the concept is its innate complexity and the absence of user-friendly tools. We are developing some of the simulation tools that lets the user perform quick calculations without much technical knowledge. For the idea of simulation-based design to take off in the food industry, we need to make this tool available to others and we need a build an effective repository where others can submit the tools they are building. The success of the repository will be hinged on sustainability and convenience. The challenge is to ensure sustainability through encouraging contribution from external sources and make the simulation cost affordable by using latest server tools.
    Contact Person: Datta, Ashim
  • Title: Building a crowdsourced engineering properties predictor knowledge base for food materials
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: While individual researchers have generated data for food material properties and chemical reactions, their access is difficult and predictability is limited. Researchers at Cornell BEE have been developing a crowd-sourced web site documenting the diverse engineering and manufacturing properties, but it is lacking in terms of demonstrations and accessible knowledge for all kinds of users. This site is being expanded to include demonstrations and videos submitted by the community with a system for crowdsourced annotation and metadata. The challenges in implementing a crowdsourced video system are numerous: How should the platform incentivize submissions and bootstrap a community around the site? What sorts of adjudication, annotation, and tagging are necessary for the user-contributed content, and how can that be scaled up? How does a site encourage a broad collection of users to contribute useful knowledge for a variety of levels of expertise?
    Contact Person: Datta, Ashim
  • Title: Building an annotated video repository of the physics, chemistry and microbiology of complex food processes
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Short, concise and annotated video are an effective medium to convey complex ideas to its audience. This project aims to employ the convenience of such a medium to illustrate critical scientific insights into the visual changes occurring during a food processing operation. The central idea is to build a crowdsourced video repository which includes video demonstration and synchronized text-based annotations from the scientific community on the physics, chemistry and biology of the changes that occur in a food during its processing. Challenges: How should the platform incentivize submissions and bootstrap a community around the site? What sorts of adjudication, annotation, and tagging are necessary for the user-contributed content, and how can that be scaled up? How does a site encourage a broad collection of users to contribute useful knowledge for a variety of levels of expertise? We already have a working prototype but we are looking for major enhancements in all areas.
    Contact Person: Datta, Ashim
  • Title: Building Educational Food Safety and Risk Simulations for Engineers and Scientists
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: The overall mission of the project is to enhance teaching and learning through the use of simulation. We are working toward enhancing food safety (and quality) education by developing multi-disciplinary (predictive microbiology, engineering, risk analysis), multi-level, quantitative, simulation-based learning modules that are easily incorporated into existing courses. The MEng student will develop Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)-based and the software R-based simulations of processes. The student will need knowledge of and interest in engineering simulations and applications to food processes.
    Contact Person: Datta, Ashim
  • Title: Combating phylloxera on grape roots
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: There are over 1,043,000 acres of bearing grapes in the United States (National Agricultural Statistics, 2012). With the exception of approximately 67,000 acres being grown in Washington state, the vast majority of the remaining >900,000 acres don’t grow on their own roots; they are grafted onto rootstocks that are either tolerant or resistant to Phylloxera vastatrix – a microscopic insect related to aphids that feeds on the roots of most commercially-grown grapevines. We are trying to determine the factors that play into selection of grapes by phylloxera. Students with interest in chemical ecology or interspecies communication should consider applying. Our focus will be on first understanding then manipulating crosstalk between phylloxera and their hosts.
    Contact Person: March, John
  • Title: Cornell Cup Robotics + Da Vinci Labs Educational Robotic System
    Department: SE - Systems Engineering
    Description: The Cornell Cup Robotics team has been repeatedly recognized by the White House in 2015 & 2016, top industry leaders such as the CEO & CTO of Intel, numerous other top colleges, and the international Making Community. To make something exciting & intuitive is often one of the greatest technical challenges. This year the team is enhancing the recently licensed for mass production Mini-Bot system they have developed for Educational Technologies that pulls from years of work on our own research robotics into a low cost educational platform to compete with Lego Mindstorms, MakeBlock, and Vex. This year the team will also be working on a high fidelity simulator, personality features, and a Baby Yoda version to work alongside our spokesdroid for the Hollywood connected Big Dreams to Big Screens competition. Course & MEng Project credit available. For info session times see Course Work Required below:
    Contact Person: Marcella Purcell
  • Title: Cornell Cup Robotics Create a new R2-D2-like Robot and Get Your Droid into a Real Star Wars Film!
    Department: SE - Systems Engineering
    Description: The Cornell Cup Robotics team has been repeatedly recognized by the White House in 2015 & 2016, top industry leaders such as the CEO & CTO of Intel, numerous other top colleges, and the international Making Community. This year the team will be completing its latest version of an R2-D2 capable of autonomous navigation of our lab as well as various human-droid interactions. Vision, sensor fusion, AI, robotic arm design, controls, power, communications, are just a few technical development areas. Past R2’s have been showcased at Disney World, NASA Kennedy Space Center, and the National Maker Faire. This year the team will be finalizing its a version to be a spokesdroid for the Big Dreams to Big Screens competition as part of a College effort to have a cameo in a Star Wars film. Course & MEng Project credit available. For info session times see Course Work Required below:
    Contact Person: Marcella Purcell
  • Title: Cornell University Sustainable Design (CUSD) Currents -- Novel HVAC & Energy Saving App Project
    Department: SE - Systems Engineering
    Description: CUSD is a collective of real-world, impactful build environment projects. Top achievements include aid in founding the half billion$ Cornell Tech Campus, the design & build of an A+ Architizer South Africa School House, members of every Cornell Climate Action Plan committee, cross country bus tour to GreenBuild, and one of EPA’s most successful P3 projects. Currents is developing an HVAC control system based on a remote occupancy predictive algorithm. This algorithm uses location data, motion sensors, and machine learning to predict with a 99.9%+ accuracy whether a room is occupied and turns on or off the HVAC system in the room. App development is also a strong focus this semester as is model verification & real testing in Upson Hall with Automated Logic & ME Engineers Inc. Additional opportunities to work with Cornell Technology Licensing and Jahani & Associates for commercial application. For more info & to apply, come to our Info Session. See website for times.
    Contact Person: Marcella Purcell
  • Title: Cornell University Sustainable Design (CUSD) National Guard Alternative Energy
    Department: SE - Systems Engineering
    Description: CUSD is a collective of real-world, impactful build environment projects. Top achievements include aid in founding the half billion$ Cornell Tech Campus, the design & build of an A+ Architizer South Africa School House, members of every Cornell Climate Action Plan committee, cross country bus tour to GreenBuild, and one of EPA’s most successful P3 projects. The sustainable energy independence of our nation is paramount to the security of our way of life. From this need, this project investigates the feasibility & benefit of developing a workforce program where National Guard members are trained & employed to construct large-scale alt. energy generation utilities, largely in solar & wind. The team will present their proposal to National Guard leadership in the state of Hawaii and/or Guam and the project is supported by the S3 Operations Officer of the Nat’l Guard Engineer Battalion of these areas. For more info & to apply, come to our Info Session. See website for times.
    Contact Person: Marcella Purcell
  • Title: Cornell University Sustainable Design (CUSD) One Smithsonian Plastic Elimination
    Department: SE - Systems Engineering
    Description: CUSD is a collective of real-world, impactful build environment projects. Top achievements include aid in founding the half billion$ Cornell Tech Campus, the design & build of an A+ Architizer South Africa School House, members of every Cornell Climate Action Plan committee, cross country bus tour to GreenBuild, and one of EPA’s most successful P3 projects. Based upon the success of the Project REDO with the Smithsonian, this new project will work with the Smithsonian again to help develop and assess solutions across all Smithsonian facilities to eliminate the use of plastics as much as possible. The project will also involve the development of plastic substation solutions and evaluation of these solutions economic and sustainable impact. This is part of the One Smithsonian effort and aims to be a role model for facilities around the world. For more info & to apply, come to our Info Session. See website for times.
    Contact Person: Marcella Purcell
  • Title: Cornell University Sustainable Design (CUSD) Operations & Strategy
    Department: SE - Systems Engineering
    Description: CUSD is a collective of real-world, impactful build environment projects. Top achievements include aid in founding the half billion$ Cornell Tech Campus, the design & build of an A+ Architizer South Africa School House, members of every Cornell Climate Action Plan committee, cross country bus tour to GreenBuild, and one of EPA’s most successful P3 projects. Operations & Strategy focuses on developing new projects & supporting continuing ones such as (1) Finalizing and launching United World Schools collaboration in Nepal, (2) finalizing and launching CUSD first semester course, (3) continuing to explore relationship with Smithsonian Institute, in particular a Climate Response Plan to their Aviary laboratory in Panama, (4) ensuring the success of ORD II, and (5) ensuring the success of all our projects. For more info & to apply, come to our Info Session. See website for times.
    Contact Person: Marcella Purcell
  • Title: Cornell University Sustainable Design (CUSD) Solarize
    Department: SE - Systems Engineering
    Description: CUSD is a collective of real-world, impactful build environment projects. Top achievements include aid in founding the half billion$ Cornell Tech Campus, the design & build of an A+ Architizer South Africa School House, members of every Cornell Climate Action Plan committee, cross country bus tour to GreenBuild, and one of EPA’s most successful P3 projects. Solarize aims to develop transportable solar charging capabilities to groups seeking to use electric power tools & equipment over traditional gas ones. This team has designed & built a novel solar trailer, and now aims to develop smaller portable solar charging “containers”, and possibly a main charging station with rooftop solar for direct implementation this year with Cornell Ground Services. The team will also be seeking grant and potentially media support to extend the projects impact. For more info & to apply, come to our Info Session. See website for times.
    Contact Person: Marcella Purcell
  • Title: Determining flood risk on the shores of Lake Ontario
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: In this project, students will conduct work to support the development of a quantitative flood risk assessment tool for shoreline communities along Lake Ontario that is part of an ongoing collaboration between Cornell University and New York Sea Grant. This project will consist of two primary objectives: 1) compare FEMA flood hazard maps to those developed by the Cornell tool to help determine how these approaches differ in their quantification of flood risk; and 2) develop a statistical model that can help predict areas of the shoreline where flood risk estimated by these tools most likely diverges.
    Contact Person: Steinschneider, Scott
  • Title: Developing DNA hydrogels through chemical and biological design
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Hydrogels are playing an increasingly important role in a wide variety of applications, especially in the biological and biomedical fields. DNA, as an essential genetic macromolecule and also a generic construction material, has provided unique multifunctionality and programmability for the development of novel hydrogels. Design and preparation of DNA hydrogels have since become an extremely attractive research area because there are exciting possibilities including unexpected properties and functions. This project aims to develop DNA hydrogels with fascinating performance by employing interdisciplinary methodology combing chemical and biological ways, from polymeric to enzymatic techniques. Real-world applications of these novel DNA hydrogels will be explored.
    Contact Person: Luo, Dan
  • Title: Developing more comfortable contact lenses
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Many different types of biomaterials have been used for contact lenses, but there are still challenges. For example, silicone elastomer is highly permeable to oxygen and therefore provides minimal interference to corneal respiration. However, its hydrophobic surface must be treated to allow comfortable wear. Hydrogel lenses (e.g. HEMA based hydrogels) have a high water content and are more comfortable. However, for hydrogel-based lenses, oxygen permeability is low, much lower than the silicone lenses. Another type of contact lenses are the silicone-hydrogel hybrid ones (such as AerGel, a co-blocked silicone-hydrogel with water content of over 40%, Bausch & Lomb), but their manufacturing becomes more complex and expensive. Furthermore, the silicone hydrogels still have lower water content than traditional hydrogel materials. In this project, we aim to develop a new class of contact lenses that have both high oxygen permeability and high water content or wear comfort.
    Contact Person: Ma, Minglin
  • Title: Development of DNA/RNA sensing device for Point-of-Care (POC) detection
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Rapid sensing of DNA/RNA at Point-of-care (i.e. detection on site) has a significant impact in various fields, from preventing widespread outbreaks of infectious diseases to monitoring environmental pollutions. You will be a member of our team to develop the next generation of POC detection device based on the technologies recently developed in our lab. The research involves an integration of bionanotechnology, microfluidics, image processing, and 3-D printing to design and build a prototype for the real-world applications.
    Contact Person: Luo, Dan
  • Title: Development of fundamentally-based machine learning algorithms to predict physiological responses of dairy cows
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Big data of physiological responses (skin temperature, internal-body temperature, respiration rate, sweating rate, etc.) have been collected from dairy cows. These data need to be analyzed to predict performance, health status, wellbeing of cows. Predictive models provide information for management decisions and to take corrective measures of intervention. These models such as bio-energetic models or computational fluid dynamic (CFD) models are based on fundamental principles. Alternative to these models are machine learning algorithms whose prediction accuracy is higher than the fundamentally-based models. Machine learning models, however, do not account for the intrinsic variability of the parameters. The objective of this research project is to develop algorithms that combine the fundamentally-based and machine learning models to predict physiological responses of dairy cows. The student will be given dataset and will be expected to develop algorithms.
    Contact Person: Gebremedhin, Kifle
  • Title: Encapsulation of fish islets for potential type 1 diabetes treatment
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: In type 1 diabetes, insulin-producing pancreatic beta-cells are destroyed or impaired. Our lab has been developing encapsulation devices that can allow for donor or stem cell-derived beta cells to be successfully implanted in recipients without immunosuppression, freeing them of diabetes and its related complications. This project will involve investigation of the use of new and inexpensive sources of beta-cells in encapsulation devices. One of the options under study is tilapia islets. In research, tilapia are relatively more sustainable alternative tissue source when compared to traditional animals, given that they are much more inexpensive to obtain and raise, reach maturity more quickly, and have much larger numbers of offspring. Islet cell procurement from tilapia is simpler than from rodents or pigs, and the cells themselves are resistant to hypoxia.
    Contact Person: Ma, Minglin
  • Title: Engineering plants and algae to make high value proteins
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Plants and algae can be engineered to produce and accumulated proteins of industrial or agricultural or medical use. Depending on the specific protein, production via plant or algae growth can have a comparative advantage. For example, if algae are grown as a protein supplement for animal feed, inclusion of enzymes that aid digestibility can increase the value of the product.
    Contact Person: Ahner, Beth
  • Title: Evolving a Better Battery
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Batteries have the perfect combination of energy, power density and scalability for automotive and grid-scale energy storage. However, their short calendar and cycle lifespans seriously limits their potential on the future smart grid. Irreversible formation of oxides on battery electrodes causes a gradual degradation of storage capacity. However, electroactive microbes such as Shewanella oneidensis have the potential to reduce and solubilize these oxides, restoring battery capacity at much lower financial, energy and carbon costs than replacement and recycling. However, most electroactive microbes, are unable to operate in harsh battery electrolytes. We aim to use Knockout Sudoku, a new technology for gene discovery developed by my lab, to discover the genetic mechanisms of microbes that thrive in highly alkaline environments and organic solvents. We will use this to build an electroactive microbe capable of operating inside battery electrolytes and restoring energy storage capacity.
    Contact Person: Barstow, Buz
  • Title: Genomics of Advanced Biofuel Production
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Recent advances in cellulose degradation have yielded dramatic increases in the availability of feedstocks for carbon neutral biofuels. However, the low energy density and poor distribution infrastructure compatibility limits the amount of gasoline that can be displaced by first generation biofuels like ethanol to only ? 10%. This problem is even more acute in aviation where fuel energy density and safety requirements are even more stringent. Unfortunately, the dominant microorganism used for biofuel production, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is limited in its ability to produce fuels other than ethanol. The oil-producing yeast Yarrowia lipolytica is one of the most promising microorganisms for the sustainable production of advanced biofuels, including gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. We are using our new technology for gene characterization, Knockout Sudoku, to build a knockout collection for Y. lipolytica and with this learn how to tailor it for advanced biofuel production.
    Contact Person: Barstow, Buz
  • Title: Genomics of Artificial Photosynthesis
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Biology gives a first draft template for capturing and storing the power of the Sun at planetary scale with zero or even negative cost, from Earth abundant elements, and with no human intervention. However, the efficiency of natural photosynthesis is incredibly low (? 0.1%). This means that energy crops have to compete with land for wilderness, and land for agriculture. Electroactive microbes provide the tools to merge the efficiency of solar electricity with the flexibility and efficiency of biological metabolism. However, very little is known about the genomics of these microbes. We are seeking students to help us characterize the genomes of electroactive microbes with Knockout Sudoku, a new technology developed by my team for rapid, ultra-low-cost gene discovery. We aim to find genomic control points in these microbes that will enable engineering through targeted whole genome evolution; and to discover new parts for de novo organisms made through chemical synthesis.
    Contact Person: Barstow, Buz
  • Title: Human Balance
    Department: MAE - Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    Description: Human balance in walking. Ultimately this project is related to the one above, reducing injury of falls. In this case old or partially disable people. The key is to work on understanding balance of people in walking. Ultimately it's inverted pendulum stuff, somehow, in my mind. But at Ithaca College they have top-of-the-line gait-lab equipment (floor mounted load cells, motion capture, related software). We have ideas for experiments on human balance that we think have been not done, or barely done. A main idea is that walking people often depend, unknowingly, on counterstepping (much like a bicycle depends on counter steering). We have some preliminary data. One interesting thing is that what people do is often the opposite of what they said they did, even right after. The say, for example, that, when in a hurry to go forwards, they immediately stepped forward when, in fact, they first stepped back. This could be one person or a small team.
    Contact Person: Judy Thoroughman
  • Title: Integrated Biorefinery for Pyrolysis Biofuels and Biotemplated Nanomaterials
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: While the modern biorefinery could meet increasing global energy demands, thermochemical biomass-to-biofuel conversions are criticized for their total energy balance, fiscal and environmental externalities, and technical limits. One of the primary issues with using pyrolysis (heating in the absence of oxygen) as a biomass conversion technique is the need for significant, costly fuel upgrading to improve stability and increase the heating value of the oil. These issues are addressed in a new approach to the integrated biorefinery: by incorporating inorganic compounds such as metal nitrates and acetates into cellulosic feedstocks, it is possible to simultaneously engineer high-value nanomaterials via biotemplating, while increasing hydrogen and other clean-burning gas components, and catalytically upgrading renewable bio-oils, reducing the need for costly downstream upgrading.
    Contact Person: Goldfarb, Jillian
  • Title: Playing 8-dimensional Sudoku to Discover Genetic Network Maps
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Genomes could hold the keys to making it as easy to manipulate matter and energy as it is to manipulate information today. However, despite enormous advances in gene sequencing, we know very little about what most genes actually do, making exploiting them a tough challenge. Genetic network analysis has the potential to reveal the function of many more genes. However, the most useful tool for genetic network analysis, a double-gene knockout collection, requires a phenomenal amount of time and money to construct, and so far only exists for the baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. My lab has built Knockout Sudoku, a new technology for constructing that drops the cost of whole genome single-gene knockout collection construction from millions of dollars and years of work to only a few thousand dollars and a few weeks. We need help to upgrade Knockout Sudoku to build a rapid, generalizable low-cost method to democratize building double-gene knockout collections.
    Contact Person: Barstow, Buz
  • Title: Preserving New York State Water Quality with an Integrated Biorefinery
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: In Central and Upstate New York, concerns over run-off from dairy and agricultural activities such as grape cultivation, cabbage, corn and hay farming could be assuaged by a new integrated biorefinery. The proposed work will design a flexible thermochemical conversion pathway that converts seasonally available biomasses to biofuels and bioproducts. The process design focuses on biomasses specific to NY industries. It will produce soil amendments that act as slow-release fertilizers to mitigate excess nutrient run-off, as well as activated carbon adsorbents to sequester water contaminants, preventing future hazardous algal blooms in our lakes and protecting drinking water supplies. By converting local farm and food production waste to biofuels, slow release fertilizers and activated carbon adsorbents we can: 1) lower resource consumption; 2) increase crop yields and 3) lessen anthropogenic environmental impacts of industrial agriculture.
    Contact Person: Goldfarb, Jillian
  • Title: Prevening horse falls, understanding human falls
    Department: MAE - Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    Description: 1) Preventing horse falls after surgery. In collaboration with Vet School. Horses die after surgery much more than people do. A primary cause is that they try to stand before they can, then fall and break a leg. For a horse a broken leg is usually a death sentence. We have ideas about a support system to carry the load during a fall. The vet school has been filming horses in recovery to look for signs that the idea might be fruitful. At our last meeting they expressed interest in developing a prototype system. Really, this is an engineering project, it's mostly about pulleys, capstans, pumps and, eventually robotic control of same. Prototype #1 would probably be tested on student and professor, not a valuable horse.
    Contact Person: Judy Thoroughman
  • Title: Rapid, Data-driven Evolution of Carbon dioxide Fixing Metabolism
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Microbes offer one of the most promising routes for the low-cost capture of unconcentrated carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and its storage as a range of dense, non-volatile storage compounds. However, the efficiency and speed of naturally occurring CO2-fixing metabolism are far lower than the requirements of a practical system. We are looking for students to help us develop new rapid whole genome modification tools that leverage data from our Knockout Sudoku gene discovery tool to evolve CO2-fixing metabolism.
    Contact Person: Barstow, Buz
  • Title: Reducing the Global Environmental Footprint of Food Production and Energy Generation via Sustainable Waste Valorization
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: The modern biorefinery could thermochemically produce sustainable fuels, but current hydrothermally liquefied (HTL) bio-oils are highly oxygenated and acidic. The proposed process uses a novel in situ upgrading approach to HTL that addresses these challenges. By leveraging synergistic reactions among heterogeneous waste streams with inexpensive catalysts such as coal fly ash and clay minerals, we can maximize yields of alcohols, alkanes, and alkenes, while significantly reducing those of aromatics and acids. Using wet lignocellulosic wastes as biomass feedstocks minimizes the environmental impact of waste decomposition to greenhouse gases and provides a potential revenue stream for carbonaceous wastes. The purpose of this project is to develop a framework to guide the selection of wet waste feedstocks, solid catalysts, and HTL conditions that result in biofuel precursors that have enhanced oxygen and nitrogen rejection with lower acidity and corrosivity than current processes.
    Contact Person: Goldfarb, Jillian
  • Title: Robotics for High Throughput Gene Discovery and Whole Genome Engineering
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Biology could make the control of matter and energy as easy as the control of information is today. In particular, biology offers an enormous range of capabilities for sustainable energy from artificial photosynthesis, to the extraction and purification of elements like rare earths that are critical for sustainable energy technologies. However, we don’t know nearly enough about how natural biology works to make this a reality. We have built Knockout Sudoku, a new technology that democratizes the creation of the most important genetic characterization tool for any organism: a whole genome knockout collection, a collection of single gene knockout mutants for every non-essential in an organism’s genome. This is enabling to fully explore, and then exploit the genomes of exotic microbes for solving challenges in energy. To make full use of Knockout Sudoku, we are building a custom automated workflow around Knockout Sudoku.
    Contact Person: Barstow, Buz
  • Title: Smarter Synthesis of Catalysts for Biofuel Upgrading
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: A long-term effort in the Goldfarb lab aims at developing a new design framework for heterogeneous hierarchical porous materials that accounts for the effect of both material properties and structure on a composite system, to accelerate the design and development of greener catalysts for reactive transport processes. This M.Eng. project will combine experimental fabrication and characterization with feedback from collaborators in computational materials design to fabricate greener catalysts for biofuel upgrading. Specifically, a team of 2-3 students will focus on designing new materials for the conversion of syngas (H2 and CO) to hydrocarbons using a Design of Experiments approach. The students will develop an understanding of the key variables driving catalyst surface area, structure, activity and selectivity that result from the polymer templating of metal nanomaterials onto silica structures.
    Contact Person: Goldfarb, Jillian
  • Title: Spacecraft defensive maneuvering without propellant
    Department: MAE - Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    Description: Develop and evaluate techniques for defensive (on-orbit) maneuvering of spacecraft without expending precious fuel.
    Contact Person: Judy Thoroughman
  • Title: Stormwater Infrastructure: Flood Risks and Ecological Connectivity
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Flood risks in the northeastern US are an acute and growing concern. Widespread flooding from recent hurricanes Irene and Lee as well as Super-Storm Sandy have garnered national and international attention. However, many more localized flash flood events have peppered the region with perceived increasing frequency. Projections of more frequent large or high intensity rainfall events, combined with expanded development of currently rural landscapes, suggest the flood risks will continue to escalate.
    Contact Person: Walter, Todd
  • Title: Sudoku Gene Assembly
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Biology could make the control of matter and energy as easy at the control of information is today. The most advanced artificial organisms of tomorrow could have completely synthetic de novo genomes. Whole genome synthesis is possible today, but it’s extremely high cost places it out reach for almost all synthetic biologists. This makes iterative design, and garage synthetic biology almost impossible. We developed Knockout Sudoku, a new technique for making whole genome knockout collections. Knockout Sudoku drops the cost of making a knockout collection from millions of dollars to only thousands, and the construction time from years to weeks. We aim to use the same approach to develop a new technology for rapid, ultra-low-cost whole genome assembly.
    Contact Person: Barstow, Buz
  • Title: Sustainable Nanomaterials for Water Treatment in the Developing World
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Access to safe drinking water is a fundamental human right; when access is denied there are widespread health, education and economic implications. To address such problems, we are synthesizing a variety of heterogeneous porous materials (high surface area materials with nanoscale active sites) for water treatment using novel greener processes. A team of 2-3 students will fabricate an inexpensive, stable, reusable “foam” silicon bead dotted with zinc oxide (a photocatalyst) to degrade organic contaminants such as pharmaceuticals in water via sunlight. The team will fabricate and characterize zinc oxide nanoparticles, and then embed these nanoparticles in a foam made by sugar templating a silicon polymer. After characterizing its surface area and stability, the students will investigate the material’s ability to remediate water contaminated with organic compounds to propose a point-of-use device to address critical needs for safe drinking water in developing nations.
    Contact Person: Goldfarb, Jillian
  • Title: Systems Biology and Evolution of Biological Extraction and Purification of Rare Earth Metals
    Department: BEE - Biological and Environmental Engineering
    Description: Rare earth elements (REEs) are essential ingredients of modern electronics and sustainable energy technologies like automotive electric motors, wind turbines, and solid-state lighting. However, they are diffuse in the Earth’s crust, requiring extraction from extremely large volumes of ore, while their chemical similarity makes purification extremely challenging. These processes are expensive, difficult, and environmentally challenging, creating geopolitical risk for the supply of these elements.Microbes offer a route to the extraction of REEs from ore and their purification under benign conditions. However, naturally occurring microbes do this with far lower efficiency than thermochemical methods. We will use Knockout Sudoku, a new ultra-low-cost gene discovery tool developed by my lab to discover control points in the genomes of REE solubilizing microbes to enhance REE extraction and purification, with the aim of matching or even exceeding the performance of thermochemical methods.
    Contact Person: Barstow, Buz


Previous MEng Projects

  • Title: "Lucy" Stereotactic Radiosurgery Testing Device
    Department: MAE - Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    Description: "Lucy" Stereotactic Radiosurgery Testing Device is used assist in a patient treatment plan. This is a third iteration of Cornell's involvement and will be analyzing a few new design proposals for the best user experience. In addition the project will look at at a water equivalent material, and combining test inserts in the most optimized way.
    Contact Person: Judy Thoroughman
  • Title: Cornell Cup Robotics Video Game Competition
    Department: SE - Systems Engineering
    Description: The Cornell Cup Robotics team has been repeatedly recognized by the White House in 2015 and 2016, top industry leaders such as the CEO and CTO of Intel, numerous other top colleges, and the international Making Community. For years, the Cup has launched students’ careers from around the country, helping them develop professional design skills beyond their peers at even the nation’s top colleges. This year the team will create a new competitive video game aimed at aiding students, from first time programmers to PhD students, to develop their CS and programming skills. Based on a successful prototype developed with the NASA Robotics Alliance this X-com like game is anticipated to be a successful video game independent of its educational value. The team’s game will be showcased at a special event at NASA Kennedy Space Center. For more info, please attend one of our info sessions (Rhodes 531, 5:00PM on 8/27 & 8/29). All Majors & Years welcome. MEng Project & Course Credit Available
    Contact Person: Marcella Purcell