Q&A with faculty mentor Masoud Yekani Fard

Posted on: October 26, 2023

Masoud Yekani Fard is an assistant teaching professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering who has mentored more than 50 students in the FURI and MORE programs over the past several years. Fard’s research expertise is in solid mechanics, composite and nanocomposite materials, multifunctional materials and nanomembranes, atomic force microscopy, material characterization and modeling.

Masoud Yekani Fard points to a graphic on a projector screen in a classroom.

What made you want to get involved as a FURI and MORE faculty mentor? 

FURI and MORE have been excellent opportunities for me to work and mentor our bright undergraduate and master’s degree students.

What is your favorite part about seeing your students conduct research?

They usually start with no idea what research is. They start with the basics of research, looking for the proper papers to understand the big picture and the hot topics. They learn how to think big and at the same time small and to the details. Within one to two semesters of research, they can usually generate their data and write their first manuscript. I love watching them grow through this journey.

How have your FURI and MORE students had an effect on your research? Have they come up with any research surprises or proposed new directions for your lab?

Our students are bright and full of passion and innovation. They sometimes come up with new ideas. Some of them were co-authors of my journal papers. One of my FURI students, Christian Bonney, co-patented a technique that could measure the energy of a crack in composite and engineered materials almost 80% more accurately than NASA’s technique.

What have you gained from being a FURI and MORE mentor? How has the experience been rewarding for you?

As a mentor, I put lots of time and energy into educating these students for research. It is enriching to see them getting scholarships for PhD studies in the most prestigious universities in the country. The research experience through FURI and MORE and their research publications and presentations greatly helped them with their applications. 

What advice would you give to students who might be interested in participating in FURI or MORE?

FURI and MORE is a one-time unique experience that could change their life for all positive new opportunities. 

Why should other faculty members become FURI/MORE mentors?

Most of my colleagues are very active with research. I think we should give more value to undergraduate students and provide them with more opportunities for research with different research thrusts.

Mechanical engineering major Tyler Norkus works on a FURI project to advance semiconductor knowledge by simulating what happens to different materials during the manufacturing of semiconductor devices at very small scales.

“Professor Fard has helped me every step of the way with my research, from the initial literature review to his ongoing support and mentorship as I work to prepare a conference presentation and a potential journal paper. He is extremely knowledgeable in his field, and he has spent many hours passing that knowledge on to me and nudging me in the right direction. I knew almost nothing about my research topic before I started working with him, and he has done an amazing job giving me the tools, information and experience needed to be successful as an undergraduate researcher.”

Tyler NorkusMechanical engineering FURI student