Kirmser Undergraduate Research Award

2016 Winners

Individual Freshman Category: Savannah Winkler (English)

Taking action: Diversity in American institutions
ENGL 200 - Expository Writing I (Spring 2016)
Course instructor: Roxana Loza

Savannah’s project was a persuasive research paper. She was required to take a position on a controversial topic and persuade a resistant audience to consider her view. She wrote about using affirmative action in institutions, taking the position that it benefits the economy and decreases racial discrimination. Her resistant audience believed the opposite.

Quote of note from Roxana Loza’s letter of support

“A vital component of the assignment was to find audience-based research to support the student’s position. Savannah’s persuasive essay in support of affirmative action included sources ranging from Hollywood to higher education to wage gap trends. She successfully acknowledged the concerns of her resistant audience and found relevant data to rebut possible counterarguments. I am very proud of her work and efforts in our class this semester.”

Individual Non-Freshman Category: Trevor Thomas (History and German)

Engines of abolition: The Second Great Awakening, higher education, and slavery in the American Northwest
HIST 586 - Advanced Seminar in History (Spring 2016)
Course instructor: Dr. Charles Sanders

In his paper, Trevor Thomas explores the dynamic intersections among religious revivalism, higher education, and the abolitionist movement in the sparsely populated states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Rather than rely on secondary analyses, he focused most of his research effort on uncovering primary sources including sermons, lectures, autobiographies, and newspaper accounts from the era. He deftly combined his own incisive observations, evocative quotes from key thinkers of the time, and the ideas of other scholars to make the compelling case that the vibrancy of the abolitionist movement in those states sprang from the ability of religious revivalists to shape educational doctrine at several newly founded colleges.

Quote of note from Dr. Charles Sanders’ letter of support

“In composing his paper Thomas made extensive use of the resources of Hale Library. He secured books through interlibrary loan and primary source information on the numerous colleges he researched through the Hathi Trust Digital Library. He also accessed the Sabin Americana Gale Digital Collections for autobiographical and sermon primary sources and his secondary source research led him to a wide range of journal articles obtained through the library’s JSTOR access.”

Group Category: David Leiszler (Biological Systems Engineering), Peter Masters (Biological Systems Engineering), and Austin Schmitz (Biological Systems Engineering)

Design of mechanical system to remove net wrap from large round hay bales
BAE 636 - Biological Systems Engineering Design Project (Spring 2016)
Course instructor: Edwin Brokesh

The goal of the team’s engineering project was to design a mechanical system to cut and remove plastic net wrap from hay bales. The plastic wrap is used to bind bales, reduce hay spoilage, and improve bailing efficiency.  Current methods for removing net wrap are strenuous, potentially dangerous, and labor-intensive.  The client, Kansas AgrAbility program, also requested the design be suitable for farmers with physical handicaps.  To address these challenges, the team researched existing solutions, developed conceptual solutions, and modeled, built, and tested potential machines for net wrap removal.  The final design included a hydraulically powered swing arm, electric winch motors to move trolley, a cutting mechanism, and electric linear actuator.

Quote of note from Edwin Brokesh’s letter of support

“The team used the KSU Library databases and links extensively to locate information on existing products, patents, papers, and standards. The KSU Library provided access to ASABE and SAE safety standards. The library provided links to trade publications that described existing and past products and many peer reviewed publications on the topic….The quality of their project is a direct result of the amount of research work the team has done since August of 2015.”