What Next?

As the summer is coming to an abrupt end, I begin to ponder what the future holds for me. What’s next after this research experience? This coming semester will be a difficult one. It will really test my resilience and drive. I will be taking four electrical engineering classes and one industrial engineering classes. All of which are 300-level courses. I am excited to delve deeper into my major and rekindle my curiosity for how things work. 

Beyond my classes, I am involved in a wide range of other responsibilities and extracurricular activities. This year I will practice all the leadership skills and qualities that I have under my belt as I am going to be a Community Advisor in Grant D Towers at NIU. I will have to oversee a floor of about 30 students in the STEM house. This is exciting and also daunting as I am leaving my comfort zone. Also, I will have the utmost honor in serving as the Northern Lights Ambassador for the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology. In this position, I will serve as one of the major student faces for my college. I will also serve on the search committee for the position of Research Associate for Research Initiatives in the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning (OSEEL). This will be a great experience for me as I have never been apart of a search committee. I will also be representing my college as the Student Advisory Council (SAC) representative to University Council for the second year.

Above all, I will be preparing to take my LSATs this December. I plan on attending Law School and I will need to complete my application by February. This will serve as a challenge for me because I will have to balance studying for the exam and studying for my classes.

All in all, I am excited to have the opportunity to attend NIU. It will be challenging but I believe that I can work through it all. Academics comes first and that is one thing I will take to mind. I have to keep the fire burning!

Yours truly,

Tony

 

The Last Stretch

With only one more week before the Research Symposium and the final day of our research programs, everyone is scrambling to analyze their data and perfect their poster and oral presentations. I am in the same boat with everyone else as I too need to do some last minute data analysis and manipulation. My mentor and I are going through all the data and sorting through it to see what I will include on my powerpoint presentation and ensure that it is accurate and concise.

Practice, practice, practice. That is he theme for next week . Next week will be filled with a lot of practice for my oral presentation. We will have to attend several rehearsals throughout the week to prepare us for the big day and it should be interesting. After which I will have to write my final report. Well, off I go to finish my powerpoint slides and begin my final paper. Wish me luck.

 

Best,

 

Tony

 

Guidance from an awesome mentor

My faculty mentor is the well-versed Dr. Martin Kocanda. He obtained his B.S. Computer Science, University of Illinois in 1985, a B.S. in Chemistry from Elmhurst College in 1989. He furthered his education and was credited with a M.S. in Electrical Engineering, Northern Illinois University in 2008 and lastly, he received his Ph.D.Interdisciplinary in Chemistry and Electrical Engineering from Northern Illinois University in 2009. He currently holds the position of Director of the Electrical Engineering Laboratories.

My faculty mentor has deep knowledge base in numerous science disciplines and he enjoys working on projects that cross over and intermingle between those fields. His research interests include: Sensors, Instrumentation and Digital Signal Processing. Specifically, his work includes the design, analysis and validation of microelectronic sensors for chemical, biochemical, biometric and environmental measurements that employ nanoscale and microelectronic fabrication methods. Related interests include materials characterization and surface morphology determination of dielectrics, semiconductors, ferroelectric and ceramic materials at the nanoscale level using advanced electron microscopy and spectroscopy. Other academic interests include chemical analysis and synthesis of materials, optical microscopy and crystallography. He has several publications in all of these areas of interests.

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In our project this summer has been very helpful. Although he is offering several classes and also is in charge of most the electrical engineering labs, he still finds the time to give me a sense of direction as to what next should be done on the project. I also like the fact that he gives me the leeway to act more independently. He allows me to make suggestions as to how we should carry out certain tests in our project. He taught me how to use the sensor and how to use the software for the impedance analyzer amongst other things.

I am really glad to have Dr. Kocanda as my faculty mentor and I am looking forward to having him as a mentor for future projects of mine.

 

Humbly,

 

Tony

Success through workshops…

This program packed a lot of great opportunities for professional development. From ethics to presentation skills, all of the workshops have been very beneficial to me. One of the workshops that was I really benefited  and that I really enjoyed was the “Introduction to Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). This workshop was presented by Dr. David Changnon, Professor in the Geography, Shannon McCarragher, geography graduate student and Dr. Lesley Riggs, Vice President of Research and Innovation Partnerships. This workshop explained all the nitty gritty details involved in conducting fair, responsible and proper research. I learned the role an advisor should play for students who work on  a research project with them and the role an advisor should play when a student is struggling. We also learned some of the criteria of authorship as well as how a student or faculty should properly react when they notice misconduct. I really liked the way the workshop was delivered. There was role playing skits acted out by Dr. David and Shannon that showed how misconduct is carried out.

 

During the past few weeks, I learned a lot of key skills through participating in the numerous workshops. I believe I improved my technical writing skills because the proposal writing workshops helped correct a lot of mistakes I frequently made. The elevator pitch workshops and the other social activities we had this summer aided me with my public speaking skills as I had to briefly give an pitch about my research and often explain it in layman terms. This helped me also gain a deeper understanding of my research myself.

 

Furthermore, a career in engineering is deeply grounded on the principles of ethics. The ethics workshops were very informative and thought-provoking. The workshops challenged us to not only make better and more ethical decisions as researchers but as scholars and future professionals. This summer I realized that I wanted to continue my academic career in the field of law. I gained a keen interest in the field of patent and corporate law and I found out that that NIU offers LSAT review and prep courses. I am looking forward to taking those courses in hopes it will assist in me in taking the next step in my academic career.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Tony

The endless opportunities in Research

There is more to college than just going to class and going home. There are a plethora of opportunities to get involved, learn and do what you love here at Northern Illinois University (NIU). If you put in the time and effort you can have achieve success beyond your expectations. One of the main reasons why I chose to transfer to NIU is because I believe that I will be more than just a number here. I was given the opportunity to live on campus as a Transfer Residential Scholar and help out new students in their transition to NIU.

Conducting research as a undergraduate is a privilege. Not everyone is given the opportunity to work along side a professor but when given the chance take it with haste. I am blessed to have the experience of conducting research with a faculty in my fields of interest. My undergraduate research experience started out through the Research Rookies program. Research Rookies is a program for freshmen, sophomore and transfer students to link up with a faculty mentor to either conduct faculty-driven research project. It was a a great experience for me as a created a great relationship with my professors and learned a lot of things that I wouldn’t have learned in the classroom. I co-authored my very first paper because of the program! I initially though research would be of no use to me because I am an engineering major but I’ve learned that it is very great opportunity to gain a competitive edge in the labor force and for graduate school. Research is essential regardless of what major you’re in.

Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) has been a very unique experience. It was not as hard for me as I’ve had research experience through Research Rookies but it was different because I have the opportunity to dedicate full time work towards my research and prepare to present my research at the Summer Research Symposium. I have learned a lot about research and other professional development skills through this program that I believe will give me a competitive edge in the future. I will definitely encourage and recommend this program to anyone and everyone.

 

Be inspired,

 

Tony

Research Update

Beyond the informative and thought-provoking workshops and the interesting excursions, I have been diligently conducting research at Scientific Device Laboratory in Des Plaines. We are doing a lot of quality assurance and quality control on our sensor and conducting a wide range of frequency and time domain sweeps with various bacteria. We have identified five species of Gram positive and gram negative bacteria that we plan on focusing on. We have cultured gram negative bacteria and ran time domain and frequency domain sweeps and measured their impedances. We analyzed their impedances and compared them to one another. Furthermore, we will begin testing gram positive species and test for consistency amongst our sensors. We noticed a little hiccup in our data as the silver on the sensor was wearing off due to mechanical abrasion that occurs during the tests. This led us to determine that our sensors have a limited lifetime until which they will no longer give accurate measurements.

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In continuation, we will begin testing the sensor with gram positive bacteria and comparing that data to what we’ve previously tested. We hope to get consistent results for both categories of bacteria and even expand our tests to yeasts which are a type of fungi. Further work needs to be done to ensure that the quality of our sensor is precise and we still need to do a lot of analysis with all of the data we’ve collected thus far.

 

Time to get busy,

 

Tony

Researching the Right Way

Ethics in Research means conducting research a moral and just way. Ethics in my field would mean applying moral principles and values to the practice of engineering. Ethics would avoid issues such as misconduct with animal and human experimentation, fabrication of data, plagiarism, academic scandals and even the necessity of whistleblowing. I believe ethics is necessary to achieve the most reliable and meaningful results. If research is conducted ethically it can lead to other scientists/researchers to continue and improve upon the research that was done. In my field, ethics is very vital as the lives of people could be at stake. Ethics in engineering involves upholding the health and safety as a main priority. Every engineer has to abide by the Code of Ethics and every engineering society has their own codes that practicing engineer has to vow to uphold.

I have encountered some ethical issues in various environments. I have encountered issues with ethics at my former job as a biology lab assistant at my community college. Fellow coworkers would take credit for a task they did not do themselves. I had to report the issue to my supervisor when it got out of hand. Also, I also encountered an ethical issue with my past research project. My project partner left me to do a majority of the work and used almost all my data and writing as his own. The matter was directed the right way and consequences were meted out. I do not believe I will have to encounter ethical issues for my research. All the data will be presented as is and if we hit a road block we will show and hope someone could improve upon it or fix it. That’s the way research should be done. The workshops definitely gave me a better perspective of what ethics is and how it is important to research. They showed me the consequences of being unethical and the length at to which it can cause damage to oneself, the research and other parties involved in the research. I will definitely ensure that my research is as ethical as possible and that everything I do is done right.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Tony