2019 REU Students at the NHERI-FIU Wall of Wind Facility

Published on July 3, 2019


Following a successful first summer REU program in 2018, the NHERI Wall of Wind Experimental Facility is hosting three REU students at FIU this summer. NSF’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program promotes education and research through internships in active research. Our three REUs join the Wall of Wind team for an intensive ten-week internship where they are involved on a variety of research projects, and collaborate with a multi-disciplinary team of post-graduate students, research scientists and professors. Their research outcomes will be presented on August 1-3 at UT Austin with REUs from the other NHERI sites. Their backgrounds and goals are shared below.

Jason Gkountis, WOW Site Operations Manager, notes, that within a few days at the facility, the REU students have become an integral part of the team and demonstrate exceptional progress at the overall research experience. From model setup, to running experiments and data analysis, the REU students gain valuable hands-on experience on critical thinking, planning, executing while using the most advanced research practices. Their enthusiasm about pursuing graduate studies and careers in natural hazards engineering is growing daily.


Meet the REUs (from left):

Morgan Wetz – an undergraduate at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, will be a senior this fall in civil and environmental engineering. She will continue her education after the completion of her bachelor’s degree and enter a master’s program. She is interested in natural hazards and the environmental impacts associated with them. At FIU Wall of Wind, Morgan is studying wind-induced loads on irregular shaped buildings.

Karen Vazquez - is an undergraduate at the University of Kansas. She will be a senior in civil engineering with an emphasis on structures with a special interest in examining the vulnerability and resilience of structures during hurricanes. Her interests in natural hazards engineering began with her research observations on the impacts of hurricane's Ike and Irma. She hopes to pursue a PhD in natural hazards related research after graduation. At the Wall of Wind, she is investigating what effect wind-induced loads have on residential buildings with wood trusses, specifically looking at the roof-to-wall connections.

Muhammad Jamal - is an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin. He is majoring in civil engineering with a focus on structural engineering, hydraulics and project management. He chose to participate in the REU experience to explore wind engineering and how it relates to structural engineering. He hopes to participate in future internships in civil engineering and is also exploring graduate school. At the FIU Wall of Wind, he is studying the effects of wind pressures on elevated houses and how these homes are more susceptible to the wind while they effectively mitigate the risk of flooding.