Students share summer work experiences

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For most students, summer is a time for relaxing, having adventures and thinking about anything but school- related topics. This certainly isn’t true for all students, especially not those who are involved with internships or have positions as student researchers for the university.

Research positions are a not-so-well known opportunities that give students the chance to work under a specific faculty member in a research project and be able to be a part of something that could be published.

For Junior Michael Park this opportunity came in the form of a project focusing on non-linear absorption and fiber-optics under physics professor James Butler.

Park explained, “non-linear absorbers are like transition lenses where in dim light they let in all the light when it gets bright and in dark light they let in less light. We make these compatible with fiber optic devices.”

With a research opportunity like this comes a chance to be highly involved with the scientific community, adding to the students’ experience.

“We do the Pacific University Undergrad Research,” said Park, “ which is where we show our research to undergrad students here and we also go, if we are funded by Murdoch, we present posters and speeches at big conferences.”

In these research positions, students not only gain experience working in the field of their choosing but they also develop ties to the scientific community; all of which build the student’s résumé. It also enables the student to make sure they are in the right field for them.

The research Park is working on with Butler is highly applicable and could be utilized for everyday use and even useful in the military. Park is hopeful that his research today may be used in the future.

“Ideally it would be in the public but you might not know about it, you might see that all of our fiber-optics are now filled with these so they are protected, or our rifle scopes or binoculars or whatever it is, “ said Park. “It won’t be a big name thing, but it will be a little step to protecting against threats. It would be cool if down the road I can say, ‘oh hey, that’s something I worked on.’”

Park isn’t the only student who has been working within his field throughout the summer. Junior Conner Pappas spent the summer working at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, OMSI, as a science education intern.

At OMSI, Conner worked with visitors by giving informal educational speeches specifically regarding the technology that is in the Vernier Technology lab. In this lab educators focus on security technology, biomedical, robots and computers, communications and household technology.

While working in the tech lab, Pappas has been able to gain some insights on what direction he wants his career to go in.

“I have made so many connections and met so many people while working at OMSI that I realized that I want to go into either electrical engineering or the applied sciences,” he said.

Pappas learned about this internship opportunity through the work-study fair that goes on at Pacific every year.

Through his internship, Pappas said he has learned how important understanding is and how understanding is needed.

“[I need] an understanding of what I need to know and what I want to know,” said Pappas. “[The experience] has actually helped to peak my curiosity about the fields within the sciences just so I am more well-rounded about certain subjects.”

Working at OMSI had been mostly enjoyable, according to Pappas. The highlight was “just seeing the fascination on visitors’ faces when they see something amazing at work, whether that be a 3D printer or a plasma arc or just basic electronics that you build with sticks and rubber bands. It’s amazing what they can come up with.”


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