My summer experience

This summer so far has been a valuable learning experience in which I finally obtained some clarity on my future.

As an engineering student entering my fourth year, the concept of planning my next step after college is now starting to hit me hard. I have loved my 3 years of engineering classes up to this point. Although challenging, I never had any doubt once I took my first engineering class that this is what I wanted to do. However, I have taken courses covering such a wide breadth of engineering fields such that my specific career path has appeared very fuzzy in my mind.

This was my first time doing summer research, under AIM Photonics, and the cliché of “better late than never” has certainly held true thus far. Both the panels and especially the two dinners have greatly assisted in the processes of planning out my next chapter in my career. These events have given me some key lessons on how to be successful, including the main takeaways of the importance of communication, networking, and simply being easy to work with. From the industry dinner I learned that a master’s degree or higher is not a requirement if you want to be a leader in a company, which was a huge question that I had been itching to find the answer to.

At the very same dinner, I experienced the power of networking as I met one of the CAPSTONE project leaders from FLIR, and had a lengthy discussion that got me deeply interested in that project and the opportunities that it can bring me. Furthermore, my specific research project which is focused mainly on design has helped give me a glimpse into what I can expect if I enter an industry position.

I still have a few months to help clear up my vision for the next few years, but this summer has helped me tremendously in doing so.

Learning from an Internship

Aim Photonics is my first internship where I do real research; I was surprised of the abilities and qualities that someone needs to have in order to explore new fields and discover new ways to make life easier by building new devices. I believe that is very difficult to do research because the people who are doing research are working in something that nobody worked before. Sometimes there are not a lot of reference or papers similar to what they are doing; therefore, there is a lot of fails every day in the labs. I am having a very good time working in my research cleaning and preparing silicon surfaces to grow III-V epitaxy with my mentor Dan Pennachio; I am learning a lot from him because he always helps me and explains things in a way that I can understand. Also, all the members of the Palmstrom’s group helps me by giving their opinion about my research and suggest me things to do to improve results.  Palmstrom’s lab is super interesting because is hard to believe that such technology can exist. I am performing several methods to clean the surface of the silicon and I am using several equipment to analyze how good the procedure is. Using these devices makes me to feel lucky because I am using apparatus of millions of dollars that not everybody can have the opportunity to use. Also, all members of the Palmstrom’s group motivated me to continue my education and I started to think that maybe I would like to become a research scientist.

A Different Perspective on Research

Before this internship, I honestly had no idea what research meant. The idea of being a researcher didn’t seem exciting. I am the type of person that likes to be hands on. Whether I am working on a project or even studying. Hands on studying to me is achieved by getting up and using whiteboards and organizing study groups. This is one of the reasons I believed that I wasn’t the right type of person to fit into the research field. Thankfully, my mind has opened up to the idea. My perspective on my future has changed in positive and exciting ways.

Research is much more team oriented than I expected. My colleagues and I tend to have similar questions as we use and learn very similar simulation programs to carry out our experiments. In most cases, it isn’t ideal to ask the mentors questions for every minor road block. This is when our small office conversations allowed us to learn from each other. A majority of the time, the learning was reciprocal. Progress achieved independently is so rewarding.

Cutting edge technology comes from universities with these programs. I didn’t know this was true. I believed it was all industry that was responsible for this. This internship has given me a new found inspiration to pursue research. I will pursue a undergraduate research program in hydrogen technology thanks this experience at my new school because of this internship.

A Physicist’s Chemistry Research

I’m a second year physics major, and I work in Songi Han’s physical chemistry lab. This summer I have been very grateful to have the opportunity to be financed to work through the Gorman Scholar Program. I started working in the Han lab Spring quarter 2016. We do research on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR); it’s the natural phenomena that is utilized in medicine for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and in chemistry for spectroscopy, which looks into the properties of materials, structures of molecules, and dynamics of molecular systems. Specifically, my responsibilities have been to help design and build NMR probes. This entails a lot of soldering parts, fashioning coils, crafting other probe components, and operating 3D design software. I’ve been lucky to be for the most part in charge of myself, being able to make a lot of my own decisions and manage my own time, as well as to have the opportunity to learn so much more than I can in the classroom. Working here has not only taught me software and design, but also how to teach myself complex concepts and read scientific publications effectively. Overall, the time I’ve spent in lab has only made me more enthusiastic and driven to do science as a career. I look forward to what the future holds for me and where the work I am doing now will lead me.

One unique aspect of our experiments is the incredibly low temperatures we go to. We often work at liquid helium temperatures, which is around 4-10 Kelvin (room temperature is around 298 Kelvin). We go to these low temperatures to get a noticeable increase in the performance of our coils.

One unique aspect of our experiments is the incredibly low temperatures we go to. We often work at liquid helium temperatures, which is around 4-10 Kelvin (room temperature is around 298 Kelvin). We go to these low temperatures to get a noticeable increase in the performance of our coils.

One of my mentors dogs that he brings to work =D

lycos

My mentor brings his dogs to work =D

Choosing a Career Path

Academia or Industry? This seems to a dilemma that almost all students in the science major faced. Just like them, I have not a single clue on what I want to do after I graduate with a degree in Biology. With no one in my family in the science field, both industry and academia seems to be a mystery to me. Thanks to the two amazing events that CSEP put on for the summer intern program (the Dinner with Faculty and the Dinner with Industry) I was given an opportunity to talk to people who are experienced in each field. These two events are extremely helpful for learning what it is like working in industry or in academia.

I have always thought of academia and industry as two parallel worlds that are so different from each other that they never cross path. To my surprise, I found out that there is actually not as big of a difference as I previously believed. Research in the industry and academia actually overlaps in many ways and are very similar in many aspect. Often, professors in research university collaborates with companies for new discoveries and some professors even started their own company. Scientists in the industry also conduct researches in similar fashion as professors. They have to meet deadlines, write research proposal for money, be the leader of the lab just like any research professors. In addition, for science major students who are fresh out of college, working in academia and in industry seems to be very similar as well. Both as a graduate student and as scientist in industry, one always start out with lots of hours behind the bench and slowly rises to a leadership position.
After the opportunity to talk to professors and leaders in industries, I completely change my view on my career path. In both industry and in academia, one has tremendous flexibility to switch from one to another or maybe even work in both.