Young Engineer Experience

The Young Engineer Experience (YEE) at SDSU’s Experimental Mechanics Laboratory is explicitly designed to attract and engage high school students for a five-week deep dive into the engineering profession. Each YEE scholar is assigned a mini-research project, where the scholar works under the guidance and mentorship of the PI and a graduate student. Each scholar is expected to dedicate at least 12-15 hours per week so we can provide you with a challenging yet meaningful experience. Before their arrival for the program, YEE scholars are assigned a dedicated graduate mentor (who serves as the primary Point of Contact) and a brief project description as well as some introductory reading materials. While the YEE program is voluntary, we provide the YEE scholars with all the materials and supplies needed for the project. We also allocate a special place in the lab, where YEE scholars can perform the assigned research project. YEE scholars are only responsible for transportation to and from campus as well all your meals while on campus.

If you are interested to learn more about this program or wish to participate in YEE 2023, please contact Prof. Youssef (

Class of Summer 2022 YEE Scholars


Shabdika Gubba                     Allie Xiao                                  Mia Chen                                 Eleyn Xiong

Project Description: Additive manufacturing (3D printing) has transformed over the past decade from a mere
prototyping process to a viable replacement for subtractive manufacturing. In the latter, the part
geometry is achieved by strategically removing material from a bulk workpiece via machining or
drilling, i.e., the notion of subtractive, where the part inherits the properties of the bulk. In additive
manufacturing, the part is made by depositing one layer at a time from the bottom up, reducing
scrap, and increasing design flexibility. However, additively manufactured parts suffer from
reduced strength and stiffness due to the layering effect, and suboptimal bonding. The objective of this
project is to assess the mechanical properties of parts fabricated using two different 3D printing
processes, namely material extrusion and vat polymerization. A team of two YEE scholars will be
responsible for one of these manufacturing processes. Each team will print different sample
geometries to evaluate the mechanical properties at different loading rates. For quasi-static testing
rate, the samples will follow standard material testing approaches (e.g., ASTM standards), while
circular discs will be used for ultrahigh strain testing using laser-induced shock waves.


Class of Summer 2019 YEE Scholars

Vincent Ngo, Los Alamitos High School ( )

Project Description: Polymers are ubiquitous in many applications and products that we encounter daily from consumer products to spacecraft. The majority of common polymers belong to only one domain; however, there exists a class of polymeric materials that exhibit coupling between mechanical deformation and applied an electric field, in scientific literature, these are commonly referred to as electroactive polymers. A sub-class of the latter is dielectric elastomers which have large mechanical compliance (i.e., low stiffness) and high dielectric properties (i.e., nonconductive materials). Hence, upon the application of an electric field, the polymer, sandwiched between two parallel conductive plates, undergoes a large mechanical deformation defined by the development of Maxwell stress. The objective of this project is to investigate the mechanical response of dielectric elastomer actuators as a function of the amplitude and frequency of the applied field. Since it has been reported that the mechanical deformation hinges on the geometry of the electrode surface area, therefore, another focus of this project is to test multiple electrode designs and their influence on the resulting mechanical deformation. The experimental approach consists of two steps. First, dielectric elastomer actuators with different electrode design will be fabricated using materials currently available at the Experimental Mechanics Laboratory. Second, the mechanical response will be measured using digital image correlation setup. Basic material models will be used to calibrate the measured response.


Yusuf Morsi, Patrick Henry High School (

Project Description: Additive manufacturing (AM) is becoming an important process to accelerate time-to-market while providing the designer with a bigger design envelope. There are different AM processes for metals, ceramics, and polymers with recent advances to include composite materials. The mechanical performance of 3D printed structures is limited to the layer-to-layer tensile strength. The latter is affected by the surface roughness of the beads, the environmental conditions surrounding the print process, and the thermal properties of the material. Recently, the Experimental Mechanics Laboratory at San Diego State University theorized a systematic approach to perform in-depth mechanical analysis of 3D printed structures based on the framework of classical lamination theory. This approach hinges on the bead-to-bead interface strength. Therefore, it is the objective of this project to quantify the interface strength of 3D printed materials while investigating the effect of different process parameters. The experimental approach to accomplish the objective of this project is to develop a novel protocol to measure the interfacial strength at different strain rates and process parameters.


This program is made possible by support from the following agencies.