Pairing CEE undergraduate students with graduate students, Assistant Professor Nick Zhou helped facilitate a team to participate in JUMP (Join the discussion, Unveil innovation, Make connections, Promote tech-to-market) into STEM. Hosted by the Department of Energy, JUMP into STEM seeks to inspire the next generation of building scientists, focusing on creative ideation and diversity in the building science field.
“JUMP into STEM is a highly competitive interdisciplinary competition, and I’m proud of the work that our students did to tackle a problem within the construction industry,” said Zhou. “The work they did helps advance the field, and they represented the department with a true Vol spirit.”
Zhou’s team, comprising of seniors Nathan Smith, Shayan Seyfimakrani, and Daniel Zhou, as well as fourth-year doctoral student Adam Brooks, competed in one of the three competition categories: Advanced Building Construction Methods.
The project goal was to develop an innovative solution incorporating substantial changes in building materials or construction methods, leading to significant benefits, including but not limited to, increased productivity, reduced construction time, reduced cost and waste, improvements to occupant comfort and health, reduced energy use, and building flexibility.
The team’s project, “Energy Efficient Concrete Mix for Additive Construction,” was recognized as a runner-up, making them eligible for the final event of the competition. Smith and Brooks represented the team in the final round, which incorporated a microencapsulated phase change material into 3D printable concrete mixtures, aiming to save building operational energy.
The experiments were conducted using CEE’s new concrete 3D printer—a four-degrees-of-freedom gantry system. The concrete 3D printer developed by Zhou and his team, was used to serve as a testbed for new construction methods and materials.