Rebekah Kempske

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Minor: Entrepreneurship and Innovation

A three quarters informal portrait of Rebekah standing in a forest.

Title of your research project:
Developing A Binder for Flexible Thermoelectric Generators

Describe your research:
I am part of a team that is working on developing a binder for printing thermoelectric elements. These thermoelectric elements are a component of a type of flexible energy harvesting device called a thermoelectric generator.

Who is your mentor(s) for your project?
Dr. Deepa Madan, Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Madan was my professor for ENME 301, Structure and Properties of Engineering Materials. During the class, she mentioned her research on thermoelectric materials. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and wanted to gain hands-on experience with the topic. Dr. Madan is also expanding the opportunities available to undergraduates in her lab, so it was perfect timing.

How did you become interested in this project?
Flexible thermoelectric generators were something I was not familiar with but sounded very interesting. These devices can convert waste heat to useful energy and can be used as long lasting power supply for Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable devices. As I learned more and more about thermoelectric generators, my interests continued to grow, and I knew this was research I definitely could see myself being part of.

What has been the hardest part about your research/what was the most unexpected thing about being a researcher?
Even though I took Engineering Materials the semester before I began my research, there was still a great deal of information and lab techniques I did not know and needed to learn. There was a learning curve, but through reading papers and a lot of practice, I was able to quickly get up to speed and become a contributing member of the team.

What has been the most rewarding part?
The most rewarding part has been having hands-on experience with topics I learned in class and having the opportunity to apply and expand my knowledge.

How will you disseminate your research?
I plan to present my research at URCAD in the Spring.

What is your advice to other students about getting involved in research?
Try to get involved in research as early as possible! I did not start my research experience until Spring of my Junior year, and I wish I would have started sooner. Also, do not be afraid to try something out! Even if you are not very knowledgeable about a particular subject area, you learn a lot while you are conducting research and everyone is always willing to help you.

What are your career goals?
I would like to obtain a master’s degree in design engineering and then work in industry as a product design engineer. I am also applying to several prestigious scholarships, both in the U.S., and abroad.


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