Student Summer Research Spotlight: Charlie Cameron ‘23

Bridgette Simpson, News Editor

The Bucknell College of Engineering hosted their research symposium for students who participated in undergraduate research on Sept. 30. 

The symposium is intended to let professors, other students, alumni and board members track students’ progress and learn more about their research projects. 

Charlie Cameron ’23, who studies Mechanical Engineering, conducted summer research with Professor M. Laura Beninati, and examined fluid mechanics — which refers to the study of the movement of fluids in a system. Cameron’s work dealt specifically with the fluid mechanics of turbomachinery, which was applied to a vertical axis turbine intended for power generation. 

 “I asked Professor Beninati if I could participate in summer research, and I began hashing out if the Mechanical Engineering Department would be able to support my vision for the project as well as housing,” Cameron said. “It was a pretty straightforward process, overall.”

He said his original plans fell more in line with serving as an intern over the summer, but he ended up being satisfied with the change in plans. 

“I’m very lucky to have gotten the opportunity to work with Professor Beninati. I really appreciated the chance to learn more about fluid mechanics and how to work with external customers unaffiliated with the university,” Cameron said. 

Cameron’s work for the summer began by picking up an unfinished senior design project. He continued the project, which had begun with the design and testing of a vertical axis fixed blade pitch turbine in an effort to create a new method of hydroelectric power generation. 

The device looks like four vertical blades attached to a large pole, which then spins a system that measures the torque of energy production, similar to a wind turbine. 

Cameron spent his summer consulting with the customer to ensure proper modifications and alterations of the device designed to generate power were adequately carried out. He also designed tests to make sure the device generated power at the level they deemed efficient. 

Cameron also spent time learning about the mathematical theory behind the project in order to best understand the mechanics of said project and device. This also helped him join the things he had learned in classes and apply it to the project, research and development of the poster Cameron presented at the September symposium.

“I got to meet some alumni who seemed really interested in my work, and I had the opportunity to show my friends and peers what I had worked on so hard over the summer,” Cameron said of the symposium. 

Cameron shared that one thing that surprised him about working with an external customer was that he was able to get more experience with the commercial viewpoint of engineering rather than purely academic. 

“It was cool to see how I can apply what I’ve learned in my classes at Bucknell to the real world upon graduation in May,” Cameron said. 

Cameron also said that he would like to thank Jan Schmid ’23 for his significant contribution to the project. He said that Schmid played an integral role in the completion of their project and recording of findings, as well as made Cameron’s 10 weeks of research much more enjoyable.

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