The University Honors Scholars Program has given me the unique opportunity to conduct high level research at the undergraduate level. Since one of my long-term goals has been to attend graduate school, participating in this program has given me insight into the fascinating world of research. Because my capstone project was done in collaboration with Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, I was able to conduct my research at a technical division building on the Fermilab campus. This experience allowed me to have first-hand contact with many of the engineers and physicists working on the Mu2e experiment.
Throughout my senior year, I continued to make progress on my capstone as it became integrated with my senior design. However, the progress came at a much slower pace. Having 9 weeks over the summer to fully dedicate myself to research allowed me to make significant strides on my capstone. Looking back on the past year, I can see how this opportunity enhanced my capstone both in quantity and quality. A great, but unexpected benefit of the University Honors Scholars program was that it allowed me to share my research at the 2014 Argonne National Laboratory’s Undergraduate Symposium, as well as the 2015 Honors Council of the Illinois Region Student Symposium. Had I not participated in this program, I would have missed out on two excellent opportunities to present my research and improve my professional skills.
One of the interesting aspects about the nature of working on such a massive experiment was that the objective of my capstone continually evolved. I set out with one objective: to develop a rail system layout, and by the end, I was able achieve a great deal more than I originally hoped. The final results of my research are threefold; I was able to develop a layout for detector solenoid rail system, compose an updated constraint document, and perform experimental studies to determine train stopping force magnitudes as a function of pre-impact velocities.
This program played a critical role in helping me develop high level research skills. It also taught me the patience and dedication needed to produce something of worth. I am looking forward to using these skills at the graduate level. My future plans are to attend Northern Illinois University for my master’s degree starting this fall, and begin a career in industry after graduation.