[Photo Caption: Me in a clean room wear outfit in a dedicated photo lithography wear]
This summer I was able to do research in New Zealand. I reached out to a New Zealand university research laboratory that I was interested in (and was also a very good reason to travel) and the PI warmly invited me to spend the summer in her laboratory. I was placed under the graduate student who was excited to have me join his project.
As this was not a formal research program with no planned poster or paper due at the end, I had to monitor myself and my own achievements and goals. The goals I worked for were; getting a degree of responsibility and freedom in the project, and learning the various theories encompassed in the project. As my hand skills increased, I was given more and more responsibility with the project as I was trusted to be able to go through the steps alone- allowing the graduate student to work on other steps. Learning the theories of direct writing and polymer properties were difficult, but learned mostly as I worked with it. Learning that different temperatures and humidity affected the water evaporation rate which affected the success of the direct writing was learned through reading but seen in the practice writing.
I wasn’t just confined to the laboratory during my time in New Zealand. My graduate student encouraged and let me take time off to visit incredible parts of the country. In my first time traveling abroad, I was so excited to see so much and learn about this place on the other side of the world. The other people in the laboratory were not only able to give me advice on a research career and research topics and trouble shooting, but as well as direct me to different sites to see.
Traveling abroad isn’t delegated to those who are able to spend a couple months traveling without any responsibilities. You can pick up experience- tailored to your interests and not just within a program’s confines as UTD works with you to help you get there.
-Amanda Bacon, Independent Study in New Zealand, Summer 2018