Five Rensselaer students earned a place in the 2013 IBM Summer Global Research Program, collaborating on projects to help improve smart-grid systems, extend lithium battery life, facilitate high-speed data processing and analysis, and expand the utility of the cloud.

Four of the students—doctoral candidates Onkar Bhardwaj, Adam Simbeck, and Brian Werneke and coterminal student Julienne LaChance—were assigned to projects at IBM Research – Zurich. Doctoral student Han Wang spent the summer at IBM Research – China in Beijing.

The IBM research program offers paid internships to students from select universities. Interns spend eight to 12 weeks engaged in hands-on research in an environment designed to foster global citizenship. Over the past four years, about 70 students worldwide have been awarded internships at IBM labs in Brazil, China, India, Ireland, and Switzerland.

The program is yet another example of the longstanding, mutually beneficial partnership between IBM and Rensselaer.

“This is one of the many ways that IBM extends its support to the next generation of researchers at Rensselaer,” said Stanley Dunn, vice provost and dean of graduate education. “For our students, the internships provide invaluable exposure and experience in an IBM research laboratory. For IBM, the program is an opportunity to get to know some of the nation’s most talented young researchers.”

All five Rensselaer students are considering careers in industry and welcomed the chance for firsthand experience with one of the world’s leading corporations.

Simbeck summed it up best. “I wanted to see what type of research is done in the real world and how it’s conducted,” he said. “The internship provided that experience, along with the prestige of working at IBM and the opportunity to travel overseas.”

Simbeck will receive his Ph.D. in physics in May. He spent the summer performing molecular dynamics simulations to help test and improve an experimental lithium air battery that, once perfected, could enable electric cars to travel for 500 miles without recharging.

Bhardwaj expects to complete his Ph.D. in electrical engineering in May 2015. During his internship, he implemented algorithms designed to capture essential information from large-scale graphs to help speed data analysis.

LaChance will receive bachelor’s degrees in applied mathematics and mechanical engineering, and a master’s in applied mathematics, in May. Her summer research involved modeling electric vehicle batteries and analyzing data to help improve smart-grid efficiency.

Wang expects to receive his Ph.D. in multidisciplinary science–information technology and Web science in May 2015. For his summer research, Wang used Semantic Web technology and data mining to help find a way to migrate companies’ applications from local networks to the cloud.

Werneke expects to complete his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering–heat transfer and fluid mechanics in December 2014. He spent his internship working on a liquid cooling system for the DOME microserver, which is in development. About the size of a bar of soap, this powerful, energy-efficient microserver will be able to perform most functions of today’s much larger servers.