The Chemical Society of Washington (CSW) participates in Project SEED, a summer research program for economically disadvantaged high school students to experience what it’s like to be a chemist. Participants are asked to share with CSW members something from their experience that has impacted their perspective as a chemist.
Presenting my research at the ACS National Headquarters building felt amazing. Completing the summer program called Project SEED felt like I had accomplished one of the best things in my life. Project SEED represented 8 weeks of my summer, spent through an internship at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Although it was summer, I would wake up at 6 am and take a bus to NIST where I was expected to arrive by 8 am. I would work for at least 8 hours each day, making it felt like a real job. I and two other interns worked under a mentor who guided us throughout the experience. I was made a crucial member of the team and I was expected to contribute accordingly. Going into the process I had no clue that the time I’ll spend in NIST will be one of the best learning experiences of my life. I didn’t know that I work in an advanced scientific laboratory working with technologies I never heard of, let alone learned to use.
My project dealt with 3D printing technology, making models of different temperature sensing devices. The whole process of 3D printing was captivating. Designing the needed object took a lot of time, with countless edits and revisions between my mentor and me before we were both happy with the final version. It took a long time – hour, sometimes days – and many, many trials before the final product was produced. Even though I might never work with 3D printing in future, that experience will always remain with me. It taught me how to conduct advanced scientific research and execute experiments in the messiness of real life.
The other important aspect of the program was learning to communicate the results of my research. I had to prepare a poster and a PowerPoint presentation for ACS fellows and scientists. This was my first real presentation and it felt great presenting my research and findings to accomplished people from different fields of science. Holding my certificate of completion afterward, I felt a great sense of accomplishment.
My experience with Project SEED taught me many things and further sparked my interest in science. It was very rewarding. Learning how to operate effectively in a team, good work ethics, and a variety of different disciplines of science made this was a very memorable experience for me. I hope I have a chance to do more in the future.