Name: Anjola Uprety
Hometown: Kathmandu, Nepal
Majors: Chemistry and applied mathematics
Expected graduation date: 2018
What did you do during the summer?
I had a summer undergraduate research fellowship (SURF) working on a collaborative project with two professors at Purdue University’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Purdue has one of the most reputable materials science and engineering programs in the U.S., and I knew the project would help me grow as a researcher, develop skills, and build a network. It was a paid internship. I lived in an apartment complex that was sponsored by the program.
What did you research?
I performed fatigue tests on nickel-based superalloys. I prepared samples using cutting, mounting, and polishing processes, and characterized the samples using electron channeling contrast imaging techniques. Some of my other duties included reading articles and journals relating to the project; attending research seminars, weekly meetings and professional development seminars; and completing SURF assignments.
What did you learn about yourself?
As a chemistry and applied mathematics major, I had not taken a single course in materials engineering. I knew that I wanted to apply to a materials engineering graduate program after Wesleyan and feared that I’d have a bit of a disadvantage because of my majors. I had to work hard to learn the research techniques and understand the materials science concept in a short period of time. I was able to adapt and perform well, and I now know that anything is possible if my effort is one hundred percent. By the end of the summer, the doubts I had about not being able to compete with other applicants were gone and I felt more confident and sure about my future in this field.
Did the internship change your goals?
The internship reinforced my goals and helped me prepare for graduate school and for a career in materials engineering. I gained experience in using analytical instruments, learned how to network with professors and professionals, and developed leadership and communication skills.
Was this your first summer research internship?
No. I had internships after my first and sophomore years, both at the University of Minnesota. My first was in the Department of Organic Chemistry and the second was in the Department of Physical Chemistry.
Would you recommend internships to others?
Yes, definitely. Internships help students develop experimental, communication, and leadership skills that are important for success in graduate school and in the workplace.