Junior, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Athens, OH 22 October 2012 – Last year I decided to pursue undergraduate research opportunities to help me narrow down what I want to one day do in my career. Many students look for co-ops and internships in order to gain relevant experience before graduation, but undergraduate research is also an excellent way to gain experience during the school year. At Ohio University and the Russ College, many professors are willing to employ undergraduate students in their labs. I am lucky to have had the chance to work in two very different labs, each with their own unique
During my sophomore year I held a position in Dr. Monica Burdick’s biomolecular engineering lab, which is located in the Academic and Research Center (ARC). Her research includes the adhesion of tumor cells and metastasis of cancer. I worked in Dr. Burdick’s lab for my entire sophomore year, and at the end I presented my research at the university-wide Research and Creativity Expo. This year, I switched labs and am currently working in the Sustainable Energy and Advanced Materials (SEAM) lab with Dr. KB Lee. His research is focused on polymers and alternative energy.
Through these lab positions, I have the chance to apply the science and engineering principles from my classes, which helps me to better understand what I am being taught. I have learned how to use a diverse range of machinery and equipment. Also, I have met many graduate students, and they are all very willing to help the undergraduates and answer any questions, whether they are about the lab or just school in general.
Research may not be the right fit for everyone, but I really enjoy it. I like learning outside of the traditional classroom setting.
Senior, Civil Engineering
Athens, OH dd Month 2012 – The years at OU have come and gone so fast, and it’s hard to believe I’m already a senior. Though I am just beginning my fourth year, I actually have 1.5 years left until I can graduate. Nevertheless, last spring I knew the summer ahead was the optimal summer to get a feel for what graduate school may feel like because it’s a lot different than the undergraduate years. I am still a little torn between wanting to be done with school and going straight on to grad school and getting it over with in a very short year and a half. So, for the summer of 2012, I got into one of the many research projects professors offer to students and worked on an assignment with one of my civil engineering professors.
I had no idea what to expect. The research I worked on was this huge project that Ohio University has to create a catalog for the concrete pavement design in New York. The college bought a software package and has a one-year license to use it freely, so I spent a good amount of my summer learning and working with the DarwinME–Pavement Design program. I became very familiar with New York and the LTPP sites of the whole New England Region, along with Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The program takes into consideration traffic, climate, and pavement design to predict the IRI value and the percentage of cracking and faulting the concrete should have at certain years in its design life. All the information of the outputs from each run has to be compared. The summer was not long enough to get to that point.
I can’t say that I am the biggest fan of conducting research, but I can see that it is important that research is done. As engineers, we cannot improve standards and design unless we are researching and testing theories. As a student, research was a way for me to learn more about pavement design.