Logo: University of Southern California

High School Students Learn to Research Shock Waves

Professor Veronica Eliasson hosts students to research shock waves in her lab in the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering department.
By: Katie Mills
July 17, 2014 —

First-hand experience in a research lab is a rare opportunity for students, not only university undergraduates but especially high school students. That’s why Professor Veronica Eliasson’s commitment to working with students offers such a meaningful experience for Hari Rajan, a rising senior at Skyline High School, Sammamish, Washington; Alex Taber, a rising junior at Groton School, Groton, Massachusetts; and Asiri Rathugamage, a USC Viterbi School of Engineering sophomore. Dr. Eliasson researches shock wave behavior in gases, liquids and solids, using this aspect of mechanical engineering to understand how the brain responds to trauma.

Speaking of what he has gained through this experience, Rathugamage stated: “My problem solving and critical thinking skills have been very much refined by the interesting new challenges I encounter working in the lab each day.” Taber is spending his second summer in Dr. Eliasson’s lab, working his way up to interact with highly specialized equipment and software like MATLAB, Solidworks, and various data acquisition tools. Rajan appreciates the opportunity to work alongside the graduate and Ph.D. students to better prepare himself before applying to medical school. Professor Eliasson adds: “Before working with and mentoring young researchers, in particular high school students, I had no idea it could be so rewarding. It is immensely satisfying and energizing to see young students work together with us to explore novel research projects with direct implications to our community.”

High School students Hari Rajan and Alex Taber (L-R) study shock waves this summer in Professor Veronica Eliasson's laboratory in the Department of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering.