09
Jul
08

Summer Days… Researchin’ So Fast!

The University of Cincinnati has a well-defined schedule for co-op and classes – the only unscheduled time being the summer between a student’s freshman and sophomore years. I had decided that I wanted to put this time to good use, so I went about looking for opportunities to build my résumé and advance professionally. I am interested in graduate school – with my goal being a Ph.D. and a career in research – so I began to look at opportunities which would be helpful in that career track. I soon found out about R.E.U.’s (Research Experience for Undergraduates), and I realized that these types of programs are perfect for me. I would be able to do research (my ultimate career goal), gain experience, build my résumé, and get paid very well at the same time! I was also hoping to take a class (or possibly two) over the summer to get ahead.

There were (and are) R.E.U. opportunities in many amazing locations; I looked and applied for R.E.U.’s in Alaska, Puerto Rico, Massachusetts (Harvard), New York (Cornell), California (Stanford), and many, many others! One of the most attractive locations, however, was the University of Cincinnati. Although I was excited by the possibility of traveling, if I stayed at UC I would be able to take classes without worrying about transferring credits. Also, I have found that the University of Cincinnati and the city of Cincinnati are fun places to be around!

There are several R.E.U. programs, all of which I believe are NSF funded, at the University of Cincinnati: one in chemistry, one in math, one in civil engineering, and one in membrane science, technology, and bioapplications. (I should also mention that there are other summer programs involving research, like WISE, Women in Science and Engineering, and SURF, Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship). The membrane science R.E.U. was my top choice as it appeared to deal closest with my major of chemical/materials engineering. I applied to it, and I was accepted into it (which meant I had to turn down some of the other REU opportunities).

I am now participating in the 10-week long program by working for Dr. Steckl in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. I get to work with some great lab equipment (a fluorescence microscope, some microliter syringes, and a nice bit of technical software), and I have had the opportunity to learn a lot. The program also incorporates professional development and technical writing through seminars and writing assignments. The program is very well rounded, and it offers social events as well. One of the best aspects of the program may be the great friends I have made with the students from other universities (who come from the University of Texas, Notre Dame, UMass, etc.). I do not believe I can disclose much about the project I am currently working on because some aspects of it have not been published. The specific details are not too important, it is the experience and knowledge I am gaining now which will be useful in the future.

I guess I just want to say that I am having a great time, and I am becoming more of an engineer every day!

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This blog is operated by Engineering and Applied Science Ambassadors, a student group at the University of Cincinnati. Our purpose is to advance the relationship between the community, students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the College of Engineering and Applied Science.
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