Civil Engineering Graduate Student Paula Kulis
My IE Pre-Grad intern completed a water budget of Oso Bay in Texas. This budget is helping us to examine the sources of various water quality constituents in the bay, and the response of the Bay to perturbations in normal conditions.
My intern is a senior in Civil Engineering, and she is thinking about graduate school. She wanted to try a research project in environmental fluid mechanics, because she loved her fluid mechanics and hydraulics classes, and because she is interested in environmental applications. I think that the IE Pre-Grad internship enabled Lauren to apply concepts that she learned in classes, such as mixed reactors and numerical analysis, to a real situation. She was also exposed to the independent thought that goes into research - we don't have every step laid out for us before we begin, but we decide for ourselves what the next logical step should be as we move along. This mentality required her to take an initiative that is normally not required in class room work. I think the also experienced the need for patience in conducting research, and the reward of seeing the end result after waiting.
As a mentor, I improved my skills in guiding independent thought without stifling creativity. I tried to give Lauren any background or advice that she needed without telling her explicitly what to do or how to do it unless she asked. I hope that as the semester went on I got better at knowing what she needed from me, and effectively providing her with that. I also thoroughly enjoyed the experience of guiding someone in their own research, and I would like to have this type of guiding role in the future of my career.