Undergraduate Research Fellowships

2021 Undergraduate Research Fellowship Recipients

AISC is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2021 Undergraduate Research Fellowships. Each recipient will receive $2,500 to conduct their respective proposed research projects during the fall 2021 term.

Augmented Reality (AR) in Steel Fabrication

Student Name: Edmund Elder
Faculty Sponsor: Hannah Blum
Institute: University of Wisconsin-Madison

This project will implement the use of AR in a steel fabrication environment through the use of the Microsoft Hololens headset in conjunction with software the research team will develop. The AR program to be developed will provide enhanced visualization of steel components and can be used to overlay dimensions and other features such as bolt holes or welds on pieces, perform QA/QC checks, and aid in fit-up of complex assemblages. Through the project, the student will be able to connect classroom concepts to real-world scenarios better and gain hands-on experience in a shop environment. The student will also collaborate with on-campus software developers to ensure the developed tools are practical to implement and straightforward to use.

The review panel believed this type of work could be of great value to fabricators by minimizing errors and possibly shortening fabrication time. Further, the reviewers felt this was a very compelling opportunity to assist in finishing a very promising project for the steel industry. In all, the reviewers were encouraged by the intended outcomes for this project and believe it has great potential to positively impact the steel fabrication industry.

Experimental and Analytical Evaluation of the Flexural and Axial Capacity of Steel HSS End-Plate Connections

Student Name: Edward Nelson
Faculty Sponsor: Pouria Bahmani
Institute: Milwaukee School of Engineering

This project will focus on determining the flexural and axial capacity of steel HSS end-plate connections through analytical study, finite element analysis, and experimental testing. The intent of the research is to help lead the development of innovative fastening systems and components that will enhance fabrication profitability and construction productivity while also improving structural performance. The intended outcome for the student is to be involved heavily with analytical studies and finite element simulations while also aiding in the laboratory with experimental testing. Through their involvement, they will gain valuable experience using common engineering analytical tools while also gaining practical experience in the lab environment.

The review panel thought this would be a very good and worthwhile project with results that could be of great value to the structural steel industry. They felt the provided work description was well-written and that the student had clear goals that were measurable and achievable. As a whole, this project will help advance the knowledge of the student and bring significant value to the structural steel industry.

Program Information

The AISC Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program funds undergraduate students under the direction of faculty sponsors to study structural steel design and construction topics for one term (semester or quarter). This research can be done as a standalone project or part of a larger research project.

For students, this is an opportunity to work independently and actively participate in research to develop a better understanding of steel design and construction. This experience may open opportunities for Master's or PhD work or enhance a resume for post-graduate industry positions.

For faculty sponsors, a fellowship supports an undergraduate student to assist in their research and may attract an outstanding undergraduate student to attend graduate school to continue with related research.

Student Requirements

  • Applicants must be undergraduate students enrolled at a U.S. university that will be full-time or part-time students during the award term.
  • Applicants must have the support of a faculty sponsor at the time of application.
  • Fellowship recipients will meet with the AISC Committee on Research for a kickoff and midterm check-in call.
  • Fellowship recipients will submit a summary report to AISC at the end of the research project.

Faculty Sponsor Requirements

Mentors play an important role in the undergraduate research process by assisting students in making the transition from classroom learning to real-world applications. It can also be very valuable for researchers to contribute to students’ development and their confidence to pursue a successful career. In addition, close interaction between students, faculty, and other research personnel exposes students to research processes, methodologies, and to higher levels of learning. The faculty sponsor should be prepared to do the following:

  • Regularly meet with the student to help guide the research
  • Provide the resources necessary to conduct the proposed research effort
  • Encourage the student to attend available training offered through campus resources
  • Review all Fellowship deliverables prior to submission to AISC

Schedule and Payment

Applications are due June 1, 2021 and recipients will be notified by July 1, 2021 for work to be completed during the fall term. AISC assumes that the student spends 10-20 hours per week over the course of the term. AISC will schedule a kickoff call and a midterm progress call with the fellowship recipient.

AISC will pay the fellowship amount of $2,500 directly to the student. Half of the payment will be made at the beginning of the project and the other half will be made after the final research report is received. The student is responsible for payment of any taxes due on this fellowship amount as required by Internal Revenue Service regulations.

AISC will cover travel and registration fees for students and faculty sponsors to attend the next NASCC: The Steel Conference after the research work is complete.

AISC Research

AISC actively funds and supports research related to structural steel design and construction. Refer to AISC’s General Research Proposal Information for information on the full research program including goals and topics of interest.

Proposal Evaluation Criteria

AISC will choose to support projects at the discretion of the Institute with the assistance of the Committee on Research (COR). Proposal characteristics that are often considered include:

  • Significance of the proposed original work
  • The potential benefit to the steel construction and design community
  • Adequacy of equipment and facilities
  • Schedule in terms of whether it is realistic
  • Probability of success

Application Information

Applications are due June 1, 2021 for the fall 2021 term. Fellowship recipients will be notified by July 1, 2021. The following items are requested in the application:

  • Proposal for research
  • Letter of support from faculty sponsor

Applications should be emailed to with the subject line “Undergraduate Research Fellowship.”

Reference Documents