Published: May 8, 2020

Sam Duchamp Simons-Wellin
Outstanding Graduate for Research Sam Simons-Wellin

Sam Simons-Wellin is a mechanical engineering student being awarded an Outstanding Undergraduate for Research Award from the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering. Learn more about him and his accomplishments in the Q&A below. 

Share about your background and what led you to study engineering?

During a break from college, I worked in both a bronze foundry in Germany and as a fixture and die fabricator for Performance Structures Inc., a manufacturer of Cloudgate in Chicago. Both of these experiences got me fascinated with advanced and novel manufacturing processes in addition to the thought, creativity and research involved in arriving at a solution to complex, multifaceted problems. 

What does the award you are receiving mean to you?

I am honored to have received this award and feel that it reinforces my decision to embark upon a career as a researcher in mechanical engineering. 

Have you received any other awards/honors?

In 2018, I received the Mackison Prize for Writing in Engineering. I received the Engineering Scholarship Fund Merit Scholarship from 2018 through 2019 and the College of Engineering Summer Session Incentive Award in 2018. During the first year of my PhD, I will be supported by the Chair’s Graduate Assistantship and have been selected to receive both the Dean’s Graduate Fellowship and the Vogel Family Fellowship.

Share an accomplishment from your time at CU Boulder that you are most proud of.

I am proud of the work and dedication that I have continually invested in research with TESLa and being able to continue this work as a PhD student this coming fall.

How have you gotten involved throughout your college career? 

My first experience with research at CU Boulder was during an independent study in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) with Professor Peter Hamlington. This was an experience in which I was able to deepen the knowledge I gained in my conventional coursework by working one-on-one with an expert researcher and authority in the field. The summer after, I participated in the Summer Program for Undergraduate Research working together with Michael Meehan of Professor Hamlington’s Turbulence and Energy Systems Laboratory (TESLa). We designed an algorithm that efficiently computes Proper Orthogonal Decomposition (a reduced-order modeling technique in CFD) on adaptively refined meshes. This work is currently being prepared for publication. In the Fall of 2019, I was hired as a graduate research assistant with TESLa and began research involving the multi-objective optimization of CFD simulations of flame-roller systems used in polymer film flame processing systems.

If you could relive any moment from your college career, what would it be?

The independent study with Professor Hamlington. The fact that this was essentially my first brush with research made this an exciting and eye-opening experience.

What do you plan to pursue post-graduation? 

I will be working as a graduate R&D intern for the 3M corporation this summer investigating numerical modelling and optimization of polymer film processing systems. I will then be continuing on to the PhD program in Mechanical Engineering at CU, furthering my research with TESLa.

What is the impact you hope to have on the world?

I hope that my research involved with energy and manufacturing processes provides new physical insights to design and build more efficient systems. I also hope that I can push the field of CFD in new and valuable directions.   

Any closing remarks?

I would first and foremost like to thank my advisor, Professor Peter Hamlington for his continued mentorship throughout my time at CU Boulder. I am immensely grateful to be able to continue my work with him. I would like to thank my fellow labmates in TESLa for their support and dedication to our field and research. I would like to thank Professors Greg Rieker and Debanjan Muhkerjee for their support during my graduate school application process. I thank Debbie Yeh, Kat McConnell, Andres Schemel and Andrew Angely both for my nomination for this award and for all of their assistance and guidance during my time at CU.

I would like to thank Dr. Jeffrey Knutsen for teaching a fluid mechanics class that triggered inquiry and thought beyond assignments and exams and for challenging me early in my CU career to dig deeper into the subject. I would like to thank all of the faculty at CU under whom I learned and grew and their dedication to excellence in teaching. Finally, I would like to thank the 3M Corporation for their generous gift support during the last academic year as well as Herbert Steven Vogel and Karen Elizabeth Vogel for their support in the coming year.