Research Experience for Teachers

Engineering, technology, science and math teachers, join us for a free summer research program and full year of academic activities aimed at stimulating students interest in STEM!

This RET program at Purdue University Northwest consists of a six-week summer research program and full-academic year activities focus on using simulation and visualization technologies in “smart” manufacturing to increase energy efficiency, optimize production, predict mechanical failures, and improve safety and product quality.

The goal is to enhance STEM education and stimulate high school and community college students’ STEM interest through partnership with participant teachers, university mentors and industry engineers using simulation and visualization technologies for innovative industrial solutions and model-based manufacturing.

Program Details

June 13 to July 22, 2022
Hybrid Learning Experience with Purdue University Northwest (Hammond Campus)
Cost: FREE!

Each participant will receive a stipend for completing the six-week summer research program and full academic year activities.

Information Sessions

  • Wednesday, February 9, 2022 at 3:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, February 15, 2022 at 3:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 9, 2022 at 3:30 p.m.


Application deadline has been extended to May 2, 2022. The application should include:

  1. a resume showing the courses the applicant teaches
  2. a personal statement/essay (up to two pages) describing teaching philosophy, which of the four projects are they interested in and how they plan to apply the research experience to the classroom.

Send all three required documents to to apply.

Engineering, technology, science and math teachers from high schools or community colleges are eligible to apply. Potential candidates can be teachers who have teaching experiences in one or more of the following courses:

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Chemistry I & II
  • Civil Engineering & Architecture
  • Computer in Design & Production
  • Construction Systems
  • Design (Electronics)
  • Design Fundamentals
  • Design Technology
  • Engineering Design & Development
  • Integrated Chemistry/Physics
  • Introduction to Design
  • Introduction to Engineering
  • Introduction to Manufacturing
  • Physical Science
  • Physics I & II
  • Principles in Engineering
  • Project Lead the Way
  • Participants are expected to dedicate 40 hours per week to working with faculty mentors, graduate students and industry engineers in one of the five projects described in the next section.
  • Participants are expected to write a research report and develop a curricular module at the end of the program.
  • Participants are expected to participate in full-academic year activities after the six-week summer program.

Research Projects

Project Description/Objective: Investigate the Effects of Natural Gas (NG) Injection in a Blast Furnace

A blast furnace is a large vertical chemical reactor utilized in the conversion of iron ore to liquid iron during steelmaking. Operating a blast furnace is both energy- and cost-intensive. Since NG prices have decreased in recent years, it has become an attractive alternative fuel for increasing energy efficiency and productivity.

However, using NG greatly impacts several furnace operational parameters. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has been applied to simulate NG combustion in a blast furnace, but further research is needed to analyze NG performance. In collaboration with steelmaking industry partners, CIVS and SMSVC have already developed a detailed blast furnace geometry and CFD model which will be used by teachers in this research.

Project Description/Objective: Investigate the Effects of Operating Conditions on the Energy Efficiency of a Slab Reheat Furnace

Reheat furnaces are commonly used in the steel rolling process, which is a critical part of the production of steel plates and coils. These furnaces impact both the quality and cost of the final steel product. During furnace operations, non-uniform temperature distributions create large stresses during the rolling process, which can result in an industrial accident.

CIVS has created a CFD model for the slab reheat furnace to examine furnace operations. The model will be able to predict the heating process in the slab and give details about the temperature distribution in a three dimensional space with the objective of optimizing the design to make it cost-effective.

Project Description/Objective: Investigate the Effects of Operating Conditions on the Stress and Lifespan of an Overhead Crane

In the steel industry, the overhead crane is used in processes that require heavy lifting. An overhead crane consists of traveling bridge-like girders spanning two parallel runways. The lifting component of the crane, known as the hoist, travels along the bridge with a trolley.

As one of the most important components of the steel factory, large overhead cranes are capital Intensive units that typically remain in service for many decades. Currently, there are many cranes approaching the end of their design life, which is a time when there is a frequent need for repair and maintenance, increasing costs.

To ensure continued operations, many large-scale cranes undergo scheduled maintenance and repairs. The application of modern computational methods, such as finite element analysis (FEA), can enhance repair and maintenance by helping to identify structurally critical areas within an equipment assembly.

Working with steelmakers, CIVS has developed an overhead crane geometry and FEA simulation, and general methodology that can be applied to existing and/or proposed large-scale overhead cranes. The main objective of this project is to structurally analyze a large-scale overhead charging crane in a steel melt shop, using numerical simulation and visualization.

Project Description/Objective: Investigate the Cause of Incidents in a Particular Safety Area in the Steel Industry and Determine Preventive Measures Through Safety Training

While modern steelmaking has advanced significantly, the industry still involves hazardous processes. Fall protection requires thorough understanding of the hazard and correct use of safety equipment. Selecting incorrect or damaged fall-protection equipment, or choosing incorrect anchor points, can result in fatality.

A web-based interactive 3D simulator was created to provide an engaging experience for trainees to accompany traditional training materials. The main objective of this project is to research the most important elements of a safety simulator for steel industry training and design a learning scenario in coordination with steel industry safety professionals.

Contact Us

Chenn Zhou

Chenn Zhou, Ph.D.

NIPSCO Distinguished Professor of Engineering Simulation | Director, the Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation (CIVS)

(219) 989-2665

Hammond Campus, PWRS 121