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Welding engineer tops category in Denman Undergraduate Research Forum

Brett WorrellWelding engineer student Brett WorrellBrett Worrell, a senior in welding engineering, topped the mechanics and materials category in the 22nd annual Denman Undergraduate Research Forum. The Centerville native focused on ways to potentially mitigate or solve problems for the automotive industry.

“In recent years, high-strength aluminum alloys are being used more throughout the automotive industry to reduce the weight of vehicles for improving fuel efficiency,” Worrell said. “But these aluminum alloys are difficult to weld due to problems such as solidification cracking and stress corrosion cracking.”

His poster at the forum focused on reducing the formation of a corrosion-susceptible phase during arc welding, by using an oxygen-infused shielding gas.

“Gas metal arc welding is a much more flexible process than friction stir welding, which would open up more options when designing cars in order to make them lighter,” Worrell said.

His work picks up on a project conducted by Tyler Borchers, who earned his Ph.D. in welding engineering from Ohio State.

“He was a doctoral student during my junior year and hired me on as an undergraduate research assistant,” Worrell said. “I helped him with his research, which was sponsored by Honda R&D Americas, up until his graduation. I found it extremely interesting and was glad to have the opportunity to explore the issue.”

He had encouragement from Wei Zhang, associate professor of welding engineering. “By 2017, Dr. Zhang and I felt that I had enough progress to enter and present at least one of my research projects,” Worrell said. “I really wasn’t expecting to win. I was just entering to talk about the cool projects I had been working on, and to practice presenting to the public.”

While the win was unexpected, it was “an enjoyable experience. It was very exciting to see the research I had conducted under Dr. Zhang be recognized.”

After he graduates in May, he’ll relocated to Minneapolis to begin work for Medtronic. “I’ll be developing welding procedures for implantable medical devices like pacemakers using laser and micro resistance welding.”