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Junior Volkan Oktem (Minsk, Belarus) is working on a unique faculty-led engineering project that could significantly improve a system used to measure movement between parallel surfaces.

A double major in electrical & computer engineering and economics & business, Oktem is conducting research as an EXCEL Scholar under the guidance of Kim Bennett, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. In EXCEL, students collaborate with faculty on research while earning a stipend.

Oktem and Bennett are seeking more accurate method of measuring lateral displacement, or side-to-side movement between two parallel surfaces, such as a ceiling and a floor.

“The applications are enormous,” says Oktem, explaining that the current measurement system is not very precise.

“The idea of determining a distance without touching anything is really useful in many industrial applications,” adds Bennett, who began work in the field several years ago as part of a military research project on the accuracy of the Patriot missile.

The new measurement system involves directing light from an optical fiber placed on one surface to three optical fibers positioned on an opposing parallel surface.

“The lateral position is determined by the amount of light in the three fibers,” Bennett explains. The researchers are working to apply the process to very small gaps between surfaces.

Bennett describes Oktem as “very independent and hardworking.”

“His hands-on experimental skills are good,” he says. “He’s just an excellent student. Everything he does, he does very well.”

This past semester, Oktem also gathered information on the intensity of light distribution. His findings will be used to construct an inferometer, an instrument that measures optical wavelength. He will work with both Bennett and William Jemison, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, to construct the device.

Last year, Oktem created a web-based system to test integrated circuit designs as an EXCEL Scholar with John Nestor, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Head resident adviser for the Office of Residence Life, Oktem is a member of the campus chapter of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Lafayette Activities Forum, International Students Association, and Soccer Club. He tied for first place in last spring’s Individual Barge Mathematics Competition.

Categorized in: Academic News