The sixth annual U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) Summer Student Symposium was recently held at the Adelphi Laboratory Center.

Thirteen finalists, eight undergraduate and five graduate students, presented their summer research projects to an audience that included ARL Acting Director Dr. John Pellegrino and the ARL Fellows, who also judged the competition.

The top three finalists in each category, undergraduate and graduate, received gold, silver, and bronze medals as well as cash prizes.

This year's prize winning student presenters were from directorates including the Weapons and Materials Research Directorate, the Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate, and the Computational and Information Sciences Directorate.

When evaluating the student presentations, the judges had three criteria: technical merit, mastery of the subject matter, and quality of the presentation.

For technical merit, the judges were looking to see how the students advanced the current knowledge on their topics and the depth of the research and analysis they conducted.

"An engineering study might not be appealing to the judges at first, but if a detailed, thoughtful analysis of the results is presented, it makes a better impression," said Dr. Rose Pesce-Rodriguez, ARL Fellow and one of the organizers of the symposium.

"The judges love to hear about the insight that the student brought to the effort, and what they personally learned from the summer research experience," added Pesce-Rodriguez.

For mastery of the subject matter, the judges looked at the overall presentation, but especially the introduction, the depth of the analysis of the data, and the responses to questions.

"I think for the most part, students get high grades for quality of the presentations," said Pesce-Rodriguez.

Presentations that stood out to the judges included graphics, videos and demos, were delivered with confidence, and were able to be understood by a broad audience.

In particular, the judges were impressed with the presentation of Jeffrey Lloyd, gold medalist in the graduate category.

According to Pesce-Rodriguez, Lloyd provided a simplified explanation for two concepts that he said would be considered over-simplifications to a subject matter expert (SME). The explanations went over well with the judges even though they are not SMEs in his field, and could easily understand the point he was trying to make.

Lloyd, a fourth year doctoral student in mechanical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and recipient of the Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation, or SMART, Fellowship, stated that he enjoyed the experience of getting to present his research project because it allowed him to refine his ideas in the process.

"It was great to be able to communicate my summer goals and the results of my research to those who may not be familiar with my research background," said Lloyd.

According to Pesce-Rodriguez, the Summer Student Symposium is a great way to highlight some of the best work that goes on over the summer at ARL.

The following is a complete list of the 2012 ARL Summer Student Symposium winners:

Undergraduate Category

Gold: Ashley Eidsmore, Purdue University, "Predicting Axonal Injury and Repair in the Brain Post Trauma: A Pairing of Finite Element Methods with In Vivo Imaging Techniques"

Silver: Hailey Cramer, The University of Delaware, "Quantum Tunneling Effect in Shape-Controlled Gold Nanoparticles"

Bronze: Wallace Derricotte, Morehouse College, "Synthesis and Characterization of Boron Based Additive for Use in Novel Electrolyte Systems in Lithium Ion Batteries"

Graduate Category

Gold: Jeffrey Lloyd, Georgia Institute of Technology, "Steady Plastic Shock Response of Metals"

Silver: Brendan Hanrahan, The University of Maryland, "Micro Ball Bearing Tribology: Enabling High-Performance Microsystems"

Bronze: Gregorio Hinojos, New Mexico State University, "BlueHoc: Distributed Computing over Bluetooth and AdHoc Networks on Android-Based Mobile Devices"