We are proud to announce our newest recipient of the GEM for STEM Undergraduate Scholarship, John Iluno!
John is a senior student at Indiana Institute of Technology with a major in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Mathematics. His goal is to become a Mechanical Design Engineer and help build technologies that will help mitigate the environmental and health impact of air pollution and global warming. Technologies like electric vehicles, robotics, and electric airplanes are some of my primary interests.
Please provide a brief description highlighting your work/area of focus.
I participated in research at the Oak Ridge Laboratory. In this research, we mathematically and experimentally modeled the nonlinear response rate of dendrite formation in lithium-Ion batteries. Dendrites are one of the primary causes of short circuits in batteries—hence, they cause batteries to explode. Seeing that most all-electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries to store electrical energy and most automotive companies are transitioning from manufacturing internal combustion engine vehicles to all-electric vehicles, I feel opportune and grateful to be part of this research. Currently, my team and I are building a robot named MART for our senior project. MART is short for a Motor-driven Adaptable Rough Terrain robot. It is a wireless controlled rough-terrain robot that is capable of maneuvering through different terrains. It also has an inbuilt quadrupled compression coil spring legs design that can make continuous jumps of over four feet.
If your scholarship funds HAVE NOT BEEN USED yet, how do you anticipate you will achieve success?
Robots are popularly employed in different terrains for operations in forestry, agriculture, search and rescue, hazardous site inspections, and space exploration. However, there are not many lightweight all-terrain robots capable of maneuvering through varieties of obstacles (with relatively high altitudes). Hence, there is a need for developments in this field. Students and engineers from MIT, CalTech, Stanford University, and Boston Dynamics are actively working on this area of robotics, and now my school can join the race to develop the first agile all-terrain robot. My team and I will achieve success through diligence and hard work. By applying the knowledge and skills I gained in my academic and career pursuit, I can complete the MART project next semester.
Tell us what this scholarship means to you.
This scholarship means a lot to me because it will help relieve me from the financial stress of college expenses. I am a working student and this scholarship to pay by outstanding college expenses to graduate next semester (Spring 2022)
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT JOHN ILUNO CHECK OUT HIS LINK.
Hello Adventurers, Welcome back to another edition of Annette's Adventures!
I am back working in the Cerrillos Hills, one of my favorite locations to work. This time, I am three gates deep into private property and loving every minute of my workday. Getting access to the area that I am working in requires coordinated access permission from multiple people. Once permission was granted and the keys were picked up, I drove out to scout the roads and plan my workdays. I know the road as far as the gates and a little ways past the last gate, but I have never been all the way out the road. My first mission was to see how far out the road I could drive. I drove out farther than I expected, but not as far as I had hoped. Once turned around and parked, I started traversing the hills, but I had forgotten to update the data on my GPS unit, so it was indeed just a scouting day.
I returned to Cerrillos Monday morning, ready and excited for a full day of work. My goal was to reach the top of the central mountain and record monitoring data on my way up. I started in the hills, moving up the mountain's eastern flank with each feature that I monitored. The day was still and peaceful. There was a slight breeze and a little nip in the air, but the sun was warm, and I quickly traded my thermal for my go-to field shirt.
I carefully picked my way through the cactus as I climbed the hillside. Each feature I came across was slightly higher than the last, and each time the slope flattened out, I would take a break from walking to enjoy the view. The higher I climbed, the steeper the terrain got and the closer the cactus grew together. At one point, I had to stop and ask myself if the risk was worth the reward. The slope was steep, the rocks were loose, and cactus carpeted my path. I continued to the top, knowing that there must be features at the top. There are always features at the top. My responsibility is to make sure that I check them for safety, regardless of how difficult they are to access.
I eventually reached the top of the mountain. The slight breeze that gently kept me cool in the lower elevations had turned into a full-blown wind. The temperature had dropped, and the sun was lower on the horizon than I had hoped it would be. But that was all ok because I made it to the top, and there really were mine features up there. I proceeded to the features, recorded their current state, took the required pictures, and then crept to the edge of the north slope to plan my route down.
I knew there were features below me, but I didn't know where. I knew that I didn't want to leave them for a future day, but I didn't know if I could safely reach them. I took a few minutes to prepare for my descent: I pulled my thermal on over my field shirt, studied the GPS unit, and tucked it into the back pocket of my vest. I pulled my gloves on and slowly started to make my way down the north flank of the mountain.
Thankfully my trajectory was spot on. I quickly saw the first of the 3 intended features; it was directly below me. Knowing that it is not safe to walk straight downhill to a feature, I changed my path and moved to the west before proceeding downhill. As with the climb up, I was making my way across loose rock through fields of cactus. I picked my way carefully and grabbed onto juniper branches when available to help ease my mind.
Once at the mine feature, I recorded my observations in the GPS unit and started to plan my route to the next and final feature of the day. The last and final feature of the day was a bit higher on the slope and somewhere east of my current position. I planned it that way to get that feature on my way back to the truck, but I was unaware of the slope conditions when I made my plan. No turning back now, and there is no way I wanted to climb back up at a later date, so I very carefully picked my way to the last mine feature of my day.
With the last feature completed, I had to make a decision. Do I make my way downhill and then cross the many hills to get back to the truck? Or, do I cross the slope and make my way down the eastern flank as previously planned? I decided to stay high on the hill, but I knew it would take decisive foot placement. I made my way to the east and then carefully downhill. Every step was a careful judgment call. Are there any loose rocks? Are there and cactus? Is the slope stable? Is it safe to stop there? All the while keeping an eye on my trajectory, I was aiming for a specific spot on the hill that would give me a more clear view of my route out. Once there, I again started down that slope, very carefully picking my way through the carpet of cactus. I was walking in the shadow of the mountain and would remain in the shadow for the rest of my hike out. I knew I wanted to get back to the truck with as much daylight left as possible. As the slope graduated from too steep to climb to a pleasant hill, I quickened my pace. I made it back to the truck at 4:54, three minutes before the official sunset, and quickly sent a text to HQ confirming my safe return.
What started as a blissful morning traversing the hills turned into a great accomplishment. Not only did I climb the mountain, but I did it safely and without injury. I started my day thinking thoughts of gratitude, specifically for such a peaceful day and for having a career that allows me moments of happiness in beautiful locations. I finished my day thankful for my skills and abilities and the gear and equipment that kept me safe. Every year on Thanksgiving, I ask everyone at the table to say what they are most thankful for. This year I am grateful for so much, I won't begin to list everything, but most of all, I am thankful for the support of the great folks at GEM Environmental. This has been a fantastic year, and I am looking forward to many more adventures and many more safe returns....
Welcome back to Annette's Adventures! While Annette has been on time and active with her adventures, I (Marlena- the editor) have been backed up and behind and I formally apologize for the delay! Without further ado, here is Annette's October Adventure...
Hello adventurers! Welcome to Annette’s Adventures.
I spent most of this last spring monitoring the Cerrillos Hills; I’ve tried not to bore you with all the details, but it is, by far, my favorite place to work. You can read about my introduction to Cerrillos Hills and AML monitoring in my blog from March.
Today I am going to take you back to Cerrillos Hills with the summer intern crew. GEM Corps arranged for the interns to meet with AML Administrators from State and Federal agencies in the Cerrillos Hills, for a walking-talking tour of mine closures.
Our day started at the State Park Headquarters in the village of Cerrillos. We met with the administrators and listened while they gave the group some background on Abandoned Mine Lands and the mine closure efforts in the Cerrillos Hills. From there, we went to a trailhead and walked to some closures in the state park. We started with one closure: an old mine shaft covered with wire mesh and a bridge that allows you to safely walk over the mine shaft. We talked about the anatomy of the mesh closures and the engineering behind them. Then we talked about what type of degradation to look for when monitoring closures. We walked to a second nearby closure, where we looked at how the mesh is anchored into the ground and looked for signs of degradation.
From those two closures, we walked back to our vehicles and drove to some harder-to-access closures. We visited some “puff closures,” backfills, and the second type of mesh closure. The administrators explained the engineering that goes into the different closures and the typical kinds of degradation at each closure type. They also told us some stories from their learning experiences in implementing the different types of closures.
The AML Administrators finished the tour by taking us to some of the oldest mine features in the area. We visited the Mina Del Tiro and Bethsheba mines on our way to the oldest known turquoise “pit” in the area, Mount Chalchihuitl (CHAL CHEE WEE TE). Mina Del Tiro is known as the oldest recorded metal mine in North America. Bethsheba’s claim to fame is that it is the most studied lead mine in North America. Both mines are remarkable for their age, depth, and history.
Of all the stops in the tour, Chalcihuitl was the only feature that I had not previously monitored. As such was a special surprise for me. My first impression of the diggings at Chalchihuitl was one of awe and reverence. For me, it was a humbling experience, the idea that this space was held in reverence for thousands of years and countless generations. I noticed that voices were a bit hushed, eyes were wide open, everyone stood around taking in the atmosphere. Our trip to the Cerrillos Hills didn’t last long. Still, the experience will last a lifetime. I’ll be working in the area this winter and look forward to exploring Chalchihuitl and the surrounding area more. Til next time, my friends and followers….