The College of Engineering and Computing (CEC) has a long history of sending competitors to the final round of George Mason University’s Three Minute Thesis competition. Since its inception in 2017, more than a dozen PhD students have used the competition to present their research by explaining its relevance in three minutes with one slide to a panel of judges. This year two students, Aamir Ahmad, (Sid and Reva Dewberry Department of Civil Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering) and Joseph Majdi (Department of Bioengineering) will advance to the final round and compete at the Mason Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference on Friday, April 8, 2022. Both students’ research addresses challenges that affect human health and wellness in vastly different ways.
Aamir Ahmad joined the Sid and Reva Dewberry Department of Civil, Environmental, and Infrastructure Engineering in 2019 as a PhD student. As a member of the Sustainable Geotransportation/Geoenvironmental Infrastructure (SGI) Research Group, his research seeks to understand how to predict the long-term flux of a group of man-made fluorinated organic chemicals called per-polyfluoroaklkyl substances (PFAS).
PFAS are found in a variety of domestic products including food packaging, carpets, upholstery, water-repellent paints, and non-stick cookware. When these products are discarded and arrive in landfills the PFAS may seep into groundwater and cause contamination at levels that can cause disease. The research aims to discover better protective barriers that will keep the contaminants from appearing in the groundwater and other places that would endanger humans.
Instead of looking at environmental factors that affect human health, bioengineering PhD student Joseph Majdi’s research focuses on developing a better way to use a system called electrical muscle stimulation (EMS). His research aims to enhance EMS so that paralyzed muscles fatigue less and battery requirements for assistive devices are reduced.
He says, "Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) is often used for rehabilitation in movement disorders and in assistive devices such as exoskeletons. However, EMS can rapidly cause muscle fatigue, which limits the induced force and becomes unstable. Currently, there is no reliable, real-time indicator for EMS-induced muscle fatigue.” Majdi believes that functional muscle physiology associated with muscle fatigue and fatigue recovery can be inferred from ultrasound imaging. His thesis investigates a system for use in a hybrid walking exoskeleton that can alternate between EMS-driven and electrical motor-driven walking, depending on the muscle's fatigue/recovery state.