Exchange Program Brings Veteran Students from Tennessee for STEM Research Opportunities

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

As part of a military veterans STEM program between The William States Lee College of Engineering at UNC Charlotte and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, three undergraduate engineering students from Tennessee have come to Charlotte this summer to gain a first-hand experience with engineering research.

The three military veteran students, Mckenna Goss, Bradly Edwards and Jacob Armiger, join UNC Charlotte engineering veteran students Phillip Brown and Ulysses Ungos in the 10-week program that started at the beginning of June. UNC Charlotte has also sent three military veteran students to Tennessee to experience the research culture there.

The research exchange is part of the Shaping Experiential Research for Veteran Education (SERVE) program, which is funded by an Office of Naval Research (ONR) three-year $750,000 grant. The purpose of the program is to provide military veterans in STEM fields with opportunities to perform research that addresses priorities of the US Navy, and through that research experience encourages veterans to continue their education in graduate programs. For the summer research exchange, SERVE provides campus housing, and funding for a daily per diem and stipend.

“Through the exchange program, they get an advanced research experience and the opportunity to see a different campus and research culture,” said Dr. Jerry Dahlberg, the principle investigator for the project from the Lee College of Engineering’s Mechanical Engineering Department. “Our community of veterans students here is also showing them around Charlotte, providing some off-campus activities.”

For their research project, Tennessee Army veterans Mckenna Goss and Bradly Edwards are working on the development of a hypersonic wind tunnel.

“Our goal is to investigate vibration patterns at Mach 5,” said Edwards, a sophomore in Mechanical Engineering. “Right now, we’re working to get the wind tunnel working at those speeds. We are already up to Mach 3.5, which we can maintain for 9 seconds of data-acquisition time. The experience alone has been very beneficial, whether we’re moving the research forward or hitting hiccups and trying to solve problems.”

A sophomore in aerospace engineering, Goss agreed that the wind tunnel work has been a great research opportunity.  “In addition to the research,” she said, “I’ve really liked the experience of working with everyone here. All of the faculty and students have been really helpful, which has been great.”

For his project, Tennessee Computer Science junior Jacob Armiger is working on the steering system for an autonomous surface vessel robot. The research involves a lot of programming and the running of numerous computer simulations.

“When I saw the opportunity at Tennessee to do this, I thought it sounded really cool, so I decided to give it a try,” Armiger said. “I wanted to explore research, so I sent in my resume and was lucky enough to be selected. I’m learning a lot and it has been a really interesting experience. I’m really grateful for the opportunity.”

For their summer research program here, UNC Charlotte Navy veteran Ulysses Ungos is doing water channel project related to wind turbine research. Fellow UNC Charlotte Navy veteran Phillip Brown is doing molecular hydrodynamics research to study how fluids move at molecular levels.

For more information on the SERVE grant and UNC Charlotte STEM military veterans programs see this website  or contact Dr. Dahlberg at