1. Where are you currently interning and what are you doing?
I am currently interning at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton. Due to the pandemic, I am currently working from home on unclassified research endeavors involving grain size measurements of metals and materials utilizing synthetic microstructure data and programming software like MATLAB.
2. How is it helping you reach your career goals?
I plan to go to graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in either materials science and engineering or bioengineering with a focus in biomaterials, tissue engineering, and regenerative health. Being a part of a research project that has allowed me to present our findings at an international research symposium sponsored by The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) and the possibility of having our research published will help tremendously when I am applying for graduate school. Being only a junior undergraduate student with published research will be a huge honor and accomplishment of mine.
3. Do you plan on staying in the Dayton region?
I fully intend to stay in the area and, if I am lucky, to stay with the Air Force Research Laboratory after graduation as well.
4. Tell me a little bit about what you’ve learned throughout the course of the internship.
The primary thing I’ve learned as a result of my time as a SOCHE intern is that communication is key in research. Of course, the pandemic made this more critical than ever, but being able to communicate openly with my research mentor and bounce ideas off of him is something I really had to learn how to do. I was apprehensive to reach out for help, but ultimately success in the internship relies on being able to communicate with a team of people, and I’m much more comfortable and confident about my communication skills as a result of that.
5. Is your internship online or a blend of both and is that working well?
Currently, my internship is entirely online. I did not like it at first because I loved being in the lab as I was during the beginning of 2020, but it’s been very nice having a flexible work schedule that helps me avoid the 40-minute commute to the base. It’s also been nice to be able to log on between classes to get a little bit of work done with what free time I do have.
6. Why do you think it helps to learn on the job?
I think on-the-job learning is critical in many fields of engineering, especially in materials science, which is the field I am a part of. My internship involves the characterization of metalloids, and characterization relies very heavily on electron microscopy. In the lab using the electron microscopes is where I learned the most, and where I could take theoretical concepts and apply them to physical, “real world” scenarios. I have learned a lot about some theoretical concepts and have been able to make connections between what I learn in my materials classes to what I’ve learned as a result of my at-home research but being able to physically witness it is an unmatched experience that solidifies everything we learn about.
7. What have you been able to accomplish so far at your internship?
I just recently had my research presented at the international TMS2021 virtual conference, and we are currently in the process of writing a paper about our research as well. I have accomplished much more with SOCHE than I ever imagined I would!
The Intern Spotlight Series are interviews conducted with current and past SOCHE Interns, discussing the value of their on-the-job experience at their internship.
If you are interested in hiring an intern, contact Patty Buddelmeyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 258-8890.
If you are interested in applying for a SOCHE Internship, go to www.socheintern.org.