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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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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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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Research Rookies 2015-2016

January Update

With winter break past us, it is finally time to start preparing for URAD this spring. I’ve been having steady progress on my project over the course of this past semester. The compressor model that I was previously having trouble with is now working and spitting out the correct values. Of course, this is just one fourth of the entire model, so there is still a lot of work to get done. My current focus will be on the expander model which should be fairly simple to modify due to its similarities with the compressor. I am definitely learning a lot about how to incorporate math and physics with engineering in this hands-on project. I sometimes surprise myself at the amount of work I put into this project when I see the entire PHES model. It took small steps one at a time, but I am finally making progress towards a completed model which will contain realistic values.

Apart from my progress, it’s hard to believe that this will be my last semester participating in the Research Rookies Program. I have received a lot of support from the program starting from my first year. I still remember coming to college for the first time and worrying about balancing my activities, covering learning gaps, and just trying to survive my first year. Having the chance to give back to the program as a peer mentor this year has been very fulfilling for me. I know what it was like during the first year, so that knowledge motivates me to provide the best possible experience for the current first-year students. One piece of advice I would give for all the first-year students is to continue exploring different options. It’s really easy to just get your project done and over with if when URAD passes, but it would be really awesome if you could continue your involvement in research either as a second-year research rookie or as a student funded by another research program. There are so many different types of research projects out there that you never know what you’re truly interested in if you don’t take the time to try out some of them. For me, I thought I was just interested in microelectronics and robotics which made up most of my research during my first year. However, after trying my hand at my current project, I realized that energy is also very interesting to me. You just never know what will happen until you try it. Being a first-year student means you have lots of time to explore different opportunities, so don’t be afraid to jump out of you comfort zone. There are many programs out there willing and able to support you through you academic and future career success. All you have to do is look for them.

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Research Rookies 2015-2016

Research Rookies Reception

The Research Rookies Reception this year was amazing! I think we all did really well preparing our elevator speeches. Having gone through it before, I wasn’t as nervous this time around. I believe I was able to get through the process pretty smoothly and am at the point where I can start to help others along the process as well.

I think my favorite part of the reception was listening to previous research rookies speak about what they’ve been doing and how research rookies has helped them get to where they are now. It is really encouraging to hear about all the wonderful things we could potentially be doing in the future with the support and experience from research rookies.

As the this semester comes to a close I would like to stay heavily involved in all the organizations I’m a part of. Some of these include NIU Robotics Club, the McKearn Fellowship Program, and my research. I hope to be able to make even more progress on my research in the spring semester.

Until next year!

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Research Rookies 2015-2016

November Progress

It seems that I have been hitting many obstacles lately when it comes to figuring out how to get my energy storage model working. Thankfully I had already accounted for this in my proposal and am taking my time in learning what problems are occurring and what equations will be needed to solve these problems. It is for this reason that I see no need to revise my proposal. I enjoy learning alongside Dr. Zinger about a topic that both of us are unfamiliar with. I believe that both of us will come out of this project with a better understanding of how the PHES system will work realistically.

My experience this year has been kind of different in that I find that I already know about what I should and shouldn’t be doing. I find that I am seeking answers to questions a lot less and giving out answers a lot more. It is just unbelievable that I have made it this far through research and am still finding many new and interesting things. It is also very different being a small group leader this year because of the shift in focus from just thinking about what I have to do to what does each of my group members need. I was very fortunate to get an amazing group of first-year rookies each with their own unique personalities and interests. I definitely enjoy showing them the ropes as they begin their research journey. The only challenging part is managing my time between being a peer mentor and being a student/participant in multiple other activities. However, I believe that successful completion of my duties as a peer mentor will undoubtedly enhance my leadership skills. I look forward to seeing how far my group has come at the reception on November 30th.

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