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Paths of engineering students William Grell and Aaron Fields meet at DU

William Grell. Photo: Michael Richmond

Although they came to DU from different backgrounds, when mechanical engineering majors William Grell and Aaron Fields stepped on campus, there were noticeable similarities.

“Academically speaking, they are nearly identical. Their differences are mainly in their personalities, but they complement and strengthen each other,” says engineering Prof. Liz Tuttle. “They are both tremendous students, and I have enjoyed watching them develop academically over the last two years.”

Grell and Fields have become great friends. Both seniors, they excel in their classes: Grell, from Parker, Colo., has a 3.93 GPA, and Fields, from Lake Oswego, Ore., has a 3.91. Both participated in the Partners in Scholarship (PINS) student-faculty research program. They interned and roomed together at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colo., where Fields researched micro-electro-mechanical systems and Grell studied biodegradable polymer scaffolds. The duo spent fall quarter studying at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary.

“Not only are they are excellent students in the classroom, but they are active in the DU community,” notes engineering Assist. Prof. Peter Laz. “Most importantly, they have taken advantage of opportunities to do research with professors.”

Fields’ ongoing research involves a 3-D computational model of a total hip replacement. The objective is to examine the complex stress fields at the interfaces to make the structure stronger. Grell’s recent PINS project evaluated several probabilistic methods for fatigue life prediction with the objective of developing an efficient method for predicting the fatigue life of structural aircraft components.

Although their research paths will diverge, both foresee graduate school in their futures. “The PINS experience has played a large role in my decision to continue my education and apply to grad school,” Grell says. “I’d like to continue doing materials research for both advanced materials development and new and improved design techniques.” Fields, on the other hand, is interested in working in the biomechanics industry and also would like to teach.

Aaron Fields. Photo: Michael Richmond

Grell and Fields both list DU’s faculty, the variety of undergraduate research opportunities, a solid engineering program and fun extra-curricular activities as contributors to their academic success. “The basic ingredients are all there,” Fields says. “So, if you bring some work and motivation to the table as well, it’s pretty hard to go wrong!”


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