McKearn Fellowship Program 2015-2016

Research

This year, I have continued my research on the Pumped-Heat Electricity Storage (PHES) with the support of the Research Rookies Program. As a peer mentor in the program, I have had the privilege of mentoring first-year research rookies Ryan, Nickie, and Fahad in their journey through undergraduate research. It has been fun watching them grow through the program and helping them see the importance of research.

In terms of progress, I have finally completed a working model of the PHES with an analysis already conducted on its round-trip efficiency. Unfortunately, the analysis showed about a 67% efficiency rating which is actually what most articles have found in the small amount of research that has been done on it already. Currently, I am debating whether to continue on with this project to try and find a way to increase the efficiency rating or to transfer over to a different lab working under a different faculty mentor. For now, I will try out the different projects in the new lab, and if I don’t seem to be interested in them, I will stick with the PHES project.

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Research Rookies 2015-2016

The End of Another Great Year

I have finally made it to the end of yet another wonderful year of research with the Research Rookies Program. URAD the other day was amazing, and I loved having the opportunity to share about my research to everyone that was there. One of my highlights was being able to visit other people’s posters and listen to the research that they did. It is always encouraging and motivating to hear about the great things others are doing in their respective fields of study. URAD is always a time of celebration of research and artistry while also keeping a focus on future directions.

I still can’t believe it’s been 2 years since I first came to NIU and joined the Research Rookies Program. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to Research Rookies for providing me with unparalleled opportunities to engage in research and develop both my leadership and professional skills. I learned a lot both as a first-year rookie and now a peer mentor. I’ve had a wonderful year with the best possible mentees I could ever ask for. Ryan, Nickie, and Fahad – You guys are the best, and I hope that you all go on to do amazing things. I also want to thank Dr. Zinger for helping me through my research during the entire year even with the busy schedule he has had to deal with. As I retire from Research Rookies, I will continue to look forward to the upbringing of new peer mentors to take my place and the continuation of my research experience for the coming years. Thank you to everyone for an amazing year! I look forward to the wonderful things to come.

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Research Rookies 2015-2016

Looking towards the future

Well, it has been a joyous ride throughout this year. I am very excited to be progressing steadily both through my research and in my future career aspirations. My current academic goal is to graduate from NIU with a GPA of at least 3.9 and full university honors. Accomplishing this shall provide me with a strong support to be admitted into graduate school where I would like to obtain my Master’s of Science in Electrical Engineering. In time, I would also like to consider obtaining a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering and possibly teaching courses at the college level or continuing to conduct research in my field. At the moment, my future career goals and dream job include finding a secure job in the aerospace industry where I can develop robots for space exploration and research. Having had experience in undergraduate research¬†for 2 years so far, I have gained the hands-on knowledge I need to succeed in the engineering industry. I have learned to think outside the box and intuitively apply classroom concepts towards solutions for real-world problems. I am eternally grateful to the Research Rookies Program for giving me this undergraduate research experience and jump-starting me towards achieving my goals. I would not be who I am today if it weren’t for the generous support that Research Rookies has provided me in developing my leadership/professional skills and gaining a passion for research. I look forward to the tremendous new heights I will reach in the coming years.

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McKearn Fellowship Program 2015-2016

Mentoring

During my time in high school, I was fortunate enough to be a part of a FIRST Robotics Team. As part of our learning experience, the faculty sponsors were able to acquire the assistance of engineering professionals in the industry to come and mentor us through the robotics development process. One of those mentors, Mr. Ian Ren, was a software engineer working for Navistar. Having had his son go through the FIRST Robotics Team experience, he enjoyed mentoring us because he wanted us to develop the necessary skills to go out and do great things. I learned a lot about developing intuitive and efficient algorithms that would enable the robot to perform a variety of tasks. I also became aware of the fact that one should assume nothing works unless it has been tested multiple times. It was because of Mr. Ren’s careful guidance that I chose to major in Electrical & Computer Engineering where I can learn all about the electrical and software processes that are required for successful development of robots.

Thank you Mr. Ren for helping me get to where I am today. I hope to someday mentor students myself and provide them with the same great experience you provided me.

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Research Rookies 2015-2016

March Update

 

Where did all the time go? It seems like just yesterday that I was just embarking on a rigorous adventure to conduct my research on the PHES. I’ve got to say that it has been a crazy ride from the beginning up to now. I have had to make multiple changes to the model I’ve been working on (a majority dealing with just 50% of a completed model). There have also been many walk backs to the drawing board when my ideas fail to bring results to the project. I am hoping to be finished with my research by the end of the month, but it looks like the analysis and results may take a bit longer. The plan now is to base the model off of a steady state time frame and just get idealistic results from that. To do this, I am going to look back at some of the previous model versions I created and look for what worked and what didn’t. I will then work off the working model and extend it towards an analysis ready situation. I look forward to presenting my poster at URAD this year.

Throughout the duration of this program, my idea of research has definitely changed. I used to think that research only factored in Chemistry and Biology type projects. Little did I know that research holds the same importance in Engineering. How do engineers go about developing new innovations? How do we put our ideas to work? Well that’s where research comes in so we can test out our ideas and create new things if they work. To research is to explore the unknown and turn a simple idea to a working solution. I believe that the Research Rookies Program has helped me to grow both as a student and as a professional in the real world. I have had many opportunities to improve my writing skills through proposal writing and networking skills through the different events and workshops that the program has held. I am also thankful for the opportunity to be a peer mentor towards other first-year research rookies because I enjoy helping others to get the best out of the program. I believe that by getting undergraduate research experience like this at an early stage in my college life, I will undoubtedly progress towards even greater heights in my future career in engineering. My goal is to continually work towards engineering a brighter future.

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McKearn Fellowship Program 2015-2016

Cultural Immersion

As an Asian American with a Chinese/Taiwanese background, I have had extensive immersion in the Chinese/Taiwanese culture. Since I was little, I went to Chinese School on the weekend to learn more about the Chinese language and culture. One of the best experiences I had in Chinese School was when I had the opportunity to participate in the annual dragon dance. This was a difficult dance to do because it involved an immense amount of coordination between the head and tail portions of the dragon. It took about a month of training to become ready to dance at the festival. As the person controlling the head, I got to “eat” all of the money that was given to me through the dragon’s mouth. It was a very rewarding experience for me, and I got to learn about the Dragon Dance Festival through real hands-on experience. I believe that it is important to learn about different cultures so that I can have information on how to interact with other professionals. We all come from different backgrounds, so it is inherent that we be culturally aware to prevent any misunderstandings or mistreatment of others.

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Research Rookies 2015-2016

February Update

It has been about 1 month since school has started, and it looks like I’ve eased back somewhat smoothly into my new schedule. I can’t believe it’s already been one semester since I became a peer mentor. I keep thinking that I was a first-year research rookie just yesterday.

As for my experience as a peer mentor last semester, I think everything went pretty well. I was able to organize my group and facilitate meetings to ensure that everyone was getting their requirements completed. Being a peer mentor is definitely a far different experience than just being a mentee was. I realize the importance of having a good peer mentor around to help facilitate meetings and updates with the group. As a peer mentor, I have to focus on the status of every individual in addition to making sure my research progresses smoothly. It takes more effort to be a peer mentor in research rookies this year, but I am thankful for the amazing group I’ve been assigned to. Ryan, Nickie, Cindy, and Fahad are all wonderful mentees who have given me no trouble at all and are very cooperative in communicating with me.

I believe that it is because I am a peer mentor this year that I am able to exhibit my organizational and communication skills through my emails and coordination with my mentees. However, my number one weakness continues to be public speaking. I will acknowledge that my public speaking skills have significantly improved from when I first came to NIU. Programs like Research Rookies and the McKearn Fellowship have helped to ease me out of my closed shell. I am now less afraid to stand up and give a presentation, but I still need to work on the flow of my speaking to prevent stuttering or hesitation.

Seeing as I only held regular research update meetings, I am trying to plan more fun activities to do with my group. This way we don’t need to use research as an excuse to just hang out with each other as friends. I will always be thankful to the Research Rookies Program for connecting me to my four mentees.

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