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SMES Students Perform University-level Engineering Research During UCI Summer Internship Program

16 November 2012 admin 2,767 views No Comment Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

Seven St. Margaret’s students experienced a summer of engineering exploration from solar panels to earthquake engineering to forms of rehabilitation for spinal injury and stroke patients. The students, who demonstrated a passion for science, applied for, then won coveted spots within the Henry Samueli School of Engineering at the University of California, Irvine Engineering Department.

For the eighth consecutive year, UCI has generously offered a unique, rigorous research internship opportunity exclusive to St. Margaret’s Episcopal School for a selected group of its junior students. The St. Margaret’s interns spent a major part of their summer working daily in an engineering laboratory under the supervision of UCI faculty advisors and alongside graduate students as lab mentors.

“This internship program that allows our St. Margaret’s students to work with accomplished professors and graduate students from UCI’s School of Engineering is a singularly extraordinary opportunity,” said Upper School Science teacher and Program Advisor Dr. Jennifer Ross-Viola. “In fact, many college undergraduate engineering students don’t have this same opportunity that our students are getting to experience in high school. Historically, for most of the St. Margaret’s students involved it solidifies their interest in engineering as a course of study in college. Importantly, it allows our students to experience the (sometimes frustrating) challenges of performing real scientific research while refining their problem-solving and analytical skills.”

St. Margaret’s UC Irvine summer internship participants and their projects included:

Brandon Miura

• Project: “Generation and Decay of High Intensity Turbulence”

• Faculty Advisor: Professor John C. LaRue (Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering)

• Summary: Brandon learned about the basic idea of eddies and how fluids move around objects.

Victoria Lee

• Project: “Performance Based Earthquake Engineering”

• Faculty Advisor: Professor Farzin Zareian, (Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering)

• Summary: Victoria learned how to model a tall-rise building with a beam and then test it with earthquake ground motions.

Narumi Takagi

• Project: “Amonix High-Concentration Photovoltaic System”

• Faculty Advisor: Professor G. Scott Samuelsen (Director, National Fuel Cell Research Center and Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering)

• Summary: Narumi learned about solar panels and the kind of data that can be collected and analyzed from them.

Alexandra Rodriguez-Oscar and Melisa Osborne

• Project: “Biomedical, Mechanical Engineering and Robotics”

• Faculty Advisor: Professor David Reinkensmeyer (Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Biomedical Engineering)

• Summary: Alexandra and Melisa have been working in the iMove Lab where they have worked on fun forms of rehabilitation for spinal injury and stroke patients while maintaining measureable methods of rehabilitation.

Emily Venable

• Project: “Fabrication of Atomically Flat Metal Surface for Biosensors”

• Faculty Advisor: Professor Regina Ragan (Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science)

• Summary: Emily has worked with template stripping and diffusion bonding to create an atomically flat surface upon which to impose a lipic bilayer to study protein function.

Samuel Rubenacker

• Faculty Advisor: Professor Daniel Mumm (Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science)

• Summary: Samuel examined what happens to turbines when using jet fuel versus 50 percent biofuel. He sectioned and cleaned the small pins that were used to simulate the turbines and prepared them for inspection under an electron microscope.

The process for the students began last spring as juniors when they filled out applications, supplied transcripts and wrote essays on why they wanted to be part of the internship program, in addition to having obtained a recommendation from a member of St. Margaret’s math or science department faculty. To even apply, the students had to complete a specific level of science and math courses.

The students worked a minimum of 20 hours per week in the university’s laboratories with their UCI faculty advisors and lab mentors. On November 5, a reception was held at UCI’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering where six of the students, now seniors, presented summaries of their work before UCI faculty advisors and lab mentors, St. Margaret’s parent Ms. Stacey Nicholas and family members. Ms. Nicholas, herself an electrical engineer, was one of the initial proponents of the internship program at UCI. Dr. Greg Washington, the dean of the Samueli School of Engineering, opened the reception with a brief welcome, remarking on the great value of the internship program to both UCI and St. Margaret’s.

Below are some of the student interns’ reflections on their projects and experiences:

Brandon Miura:

I worked in the wind tunnel lab in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering. I worked on a few projects while I was there including a fan-cooling system for the active grid motors, creating five wooden frames for different wire meshes, attempted to make hot and cold wire sensors, and learned about the basics of a micro controller.

I enjoyed working with the graduate students and working in their lab doing these hands-on projects because I have never done any projects like those before and it was a lot of fun. My favorite part was probably figuring out how to make a cooling system for the active grid motors. I feel that this experience will help me mostly in college because it gave me an idea of what I might do when I do research later on. This internship was also helpful to me because it helped me determine that I wanted to become an engineer.

Victoria Lee:

This summer, I interned at UCI’s Performance Based Earthquake Engineering Lab. With my professor, I worked on creating a programming code to expedite the process of building-safety testing. Building designs are traditionally represented on the computer with complex 3-D models and then subjected to ground motion simulations. This process is accurate but inefficient and expensive. Therefore, it was very exciting to be able to work on such a project that would maximize building-safety testing.

This internship showed me what working in a research laboratory at the university level is truly like. Sometimes graduate students even have a hard time finding internships, and I’m grateful that as a high school student, I was given this opportunity and was able to work one-on-one with a prominent university professor. From this past summer, I have gained research and communication skills that will definitely benefit me this year and as I go on to college.

Click here to read UCI’s article regarding the 2012 St. Margaret’s Episcopal School Summer Internship Reception.

Click here to read UCI’s article regarding the 2012 St. Margaret’s Episcopal School Summer Internship Program.


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