Since I transferred to NIU in the fall of 2013, I have been continually looking for ways to become involved and enhance my academic experience. One way I was able to do this was through involvement in the University Honors Program. Being an honors student has allowed me to have many opportunities, including participation in various field trips and special projects. The projects have been particularly interesting and are focused on the development of analytical skills. Another way I was able to complete this goal of mine was to become an undergraduate research assistant (URA). The URA program allowed me to complete research on Fermilab’s particle physics experiment: Muons to Electrons. During the fall and spring semesters of last year, my research focus was to give mechanical engineering design support to the experiment by developing and analyzing multiple structural pieces.
As the beginning of this summer approached, I explored options that might allow me to continue and expand my research. When I discovered the University Honors Summers Scholars program, it was clear that this was the perfect opportunity. The research I have been completing this summer has allowed me to focus on multiple engineering aspects; each has helped me to acquire new skills. I have been able to develop a “rail and support stand” layout. Completing this task has required me to learn industrial standards and cost optimization. I have also established an installation procedure which details the sequence of inserting of multiple components into a 46 foot long vacuum solenoid. This task has challenged me to develop my technical writing ability. Lastly, I have been gaining proficiency with two engineering software programs: ProEngineer and ANSYS.
I thoroughly enjoy this research because it improves my abilities as an engineer as I must think analytically, critically, and practically. Another benefit that comes from this research is the experience of analyzing and interpreting complicated data. This knowledge will be very useful as I continue my research pursuits at the graduate level. One of the aspects I enjoy most about my summer research is having the privilege to work with knowledgeable engineers and physicists. This interaction allows me to learn from those who are experts in their field. So far this experience has been very educational, and has prepared me for many aspects of my future career.