Logan Williams, an undergraduate student from Purdue University spent his summer working in Prof. Steven Nutt’s composites center through the SURE – Summer Undergraduate Research Experience program.
The Viterbi School of Engineering's summer research programs offer engineering students hands-on research experience in a wide variety of programs. Working with, and supervised by faculty members here, students from all over the world develop research skills in their field, and build important relationships that will further their academic and research careers. Outstanding undergraduate students compete for positions that enable them to spend two months in sunny Los Angeles doing individual research with professors from the Viterbi School of Engineering. You can read more about the SURE program here.
Lee Hamill, a graduate student in the department of Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science supervised Logan’s research work and provided him hands-on training in fabricating and characterizing carbon fiber prepreg composites.
Then following is an interview with Logan Williams about his experience with the SURE program at USC during the summer of 2013…
How did you like your stay in Los Angeles?
I've really enjoyed it! I've become good friends with a lot of the other people in the program and there's plenty of things nearby to do on the weekends.
What were some things that you did while you were here?
I've gone to several beaches: Venice, Santa Monica, Long, Hermosa. I've also gone to Disneyland and Six Flags. I made a weekend trip up to San Francisco and went hiking by Mount Tamalpais. I hiked up to the Hollywood sign and explored quite a few parts of the city as well.
Did you get along with the people in the program? Was it a positive experience?
I got along really well with all the people in the program. There's no one that I did not like. I'd say it was a very positive experience.
Was it interesting learning about the other projects that your peers were working on?
It was. I really had only the vaguest ideas of what other people were working on until the poster session during the final week. We never really talked about work while we were hanging out.
Based on your experience in LA, is it a place you would want to return to for graduate school or for work?
I could certainly see myself here in the future. Traffic is the only really bad aspect of LA; if I could set myself up so that I didn't have much of a commute, I think it would be a really nice place to live.
Why did you choose to work in the USC Composites Center?
I wanted to see what living in a big city in California for a summer would be like and composites are one of the hot areas in Material Science research right now. It seemed like a good fit.
Did the experience in the lab live up to your expectations?
It did. It was a good place to work. What is one thing you learned that you didn’t know how to do before?
I learned a lot about how composite parts are laid up using prepreg. I also learned how to properly polish aluminum.
In the project, did you feel like you were able to accomplish all that you wanted to?
Not really. We still have quite a few things that we want to test. I'll be interested to see how they turn out.
Did you feel like you had enough of a balance between graduate support and individual independence and flexibility to lead the project?
I'd say so. I had graduate support whenever I wanted it, but no one loomed over my shoulder.
After completion of the program, do you want to attend graduate school more or less than you did before?
I'd say a little bit more, but more important is that it gave me a much better idea of what factors to look for when picking a school/advisor/project for graduate school.
Based on your experience in the SURE program, will you consider going to graduate school at USC?
Definitely. I will apply here for sure.
What was your favorite and least favorite job/task/part of the Composites Center?
My least favorite part is always the big stack of academic papers you have to read when you start a new project. It's important, but always slow going. My favorite part of the Composites Center was just the atmosphere. Everyone's working, but they're also laid-back and very friendly.