September 2015 Newsletter: Sparking Bold Ideas

Written by
Maura M. Fennessy
Sept. 14, 2015

Cleaning contaminated groundwater.  Monitoring the structural integrity of bridges.  Predicting the occurrence and intensity of hurricanes.  Reducing carbon emissions in cement production.  This issue of features the innovative ways that researchers at Princeton's School of Engineering and Applied Science are finding solutions to today's challenges. 
And now that Labor Day has heralded the end of the slower pace of summer and students are returning to campus, we also want to look back at the stories of some of the impressive middle school, high school and college students whose summer was anything but slow here on campus.  These students worked to keep their minds sharp, and had a little fun along the way, by racing homemade canoes at STEAM camp, learning what it's like to work in a university laboratory, or building the foundation for becoming a first-generation college student.
If you are impressed by the stunning orange marigolds in the cover image, you may enjoy this article about Princeton University's greenhouse, where they were grown.


At Princeton University's School of Engineering and Applied Science, faculty and students dedicate their technical science skills to solving society's biggest challenges in energy and the environment, health and security, and preparing future leaders to take on these challenges. Below is a sampling of the research projects highlighted in the Summer 2015 issue of E-Quad News, the school's semi-annual reporting on engineering teaching and research. 

Safer bridges

Bridging disciplines for safer bridges

After a rush-hour bridge collapse killed and injured hundreds in Minneapolis in 2007, Branko Glisić wanted to know if he could develop a more efficient sensor to help engineers detect the signs of failure before it was too late. Glisić, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and Yao Yao Ph.D. '15, collaborated with faculty and students in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering to invent a sensor that could be built into bridges and allow more sophisticated measurements of strain than previously possible.  Learn more.



Cleaner water

Hunch about swamp bug may yield cleaner water 

A mysterious vial of mud taken from the Assunpink Wildlife Management Area in Central Jersey may end up offering a solution to several obstinate forms of water and ground pollution.  Learn more.




Predicting hurricanes

Collaborations reveal multiple impacts of hurricanes

Hurricanes are among the most studied weather patterns on the planet - scientists track them with radar, watch them with satellites and fly through them with special aircraft. But despite the effort, and the high stakes involved, major gaps remain in scientific understanding of these colossal storms. In a collaboration between Princeton and the University of Notre Dame, Assistant Professor Ning Lin and students assessed damage on the New Jersey coast from "Superstorm Sandy." The work is part of an effort to better predict the behavior of hurricanes, especially over land, and the damage they are likely to cause. Learn more.

Lower carbon cement

Projects seek concrete solutions to global warming

When it comes to global warming, most people worry about power plants. Claire White thinks about another kind of plant - those that make cement. "Cement production and cement powder are a major component of greenhouse gas emissions," said White, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University. "It accounts for between 5 and 8 percent of human-made carbon dioxide." Along with co-researchers from across the University, White is exploring ways to manufacture cement with a much lower contribution to global warming.  Learn more.



PUPP student signs

What PUPP means to me

The Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP), a tuition-free academic and cultural enrichment program, has been helping prepare high-achieving, low-income high school students for college success for nearly 15 years. PUPP selects 24 students each year in the spring of ninth grade to participate in its comprehensive, three-year college preparatory program. The program, founded in 2001 by Princeton's Program in Teacher Preparation, serves partner public high schools in Ewing, Hamilton, Lawrence, Princeton and Trenton.   Learn more. 


Community House STEAM Camp

STEAM camp makes summer learning fun

Riding roller coasters. Racing homemade canoes. Cooking s'mores on a sunny afternoon. At Princeton University's Community House STEAM Camp, typical summer camp activities are actually science lessons. More than 40 middle school students attended STEAM Camp this summer from June 29 to July 31. The camp, which was created to help close the achievement gap among minority and low-income children in the Princeton area, was expanded this year from STEM to STEAM, integrating arts into the science, technology, engineering and math curriculum.  Learn more.



Laboratory learning program

Summer program introduces high school students to laboratory research
About 30 high school students from New Jersey and across the country conducted research on campus this summer with Princeton's Laboratory Learning Program. The program provides motivated students with the opportunity to learn firsthand what it is like to participate in university-level research.  Learn more.



PPPL Summer intern with Asw Donna Simon

Summer interns get research experience at PPPL
If you happened to be in the lobby of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory's (PPPL) Lyman Spitzer Building on a recent Friday morning, you would have seen the next generation of top scientists preparing to launch their careers. Twenty-five undergraduates from colleges across the country, and ten high school students from New Jersey, spent this summer at the laboratory as interns, working on projects ranging from figuring out how to remotely steer a set of mirrors that will be built into the upcoming ITER fusion machine to studying how nanoparticles grow inside plasmas. And they were presenting their work to researchers and policymakers.  Learn more.


In August, we had the pleasure of hosting area legislators at two symposiums to showcase the summer research efforts of New Jersey high school and undergraduate students participating in the Princeton University Preparatory Program and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory's summer internship programs. Thanks to Senator Linda Greenstein, and Assembly members Dan Benson, Jack Ciattarelli, Donna Simon and Liz Muoio for honoring the outstanding work of these students.

Legislative campus visits


Constitution Day Lecture: Slavery and the U.S. Constitution
September 16, 2015 at 4:30pm

Princeton University Art Museum: Cezanne and the Modern Exhibition Opening Celebration
September 19, 2015 at 5:00pm

Public Lecture: Michael Mullen, U.S. Navy Adm. (retired), former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
October 8, 2015 at 4:30pm

Public Lecture: Barney Frank, former member, U.S. House of Representatives (D-MA); author, "Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage"
October 12, 2015 at 4:30pm

Learn more about upcoming campus events.