For engineering students interested in research, there are many opportunities to get involved, both on and off campus! In fact, nearly 25% of engineering students at Grove City College are involved in some type of research or independent study. Many of these students work in ‘Anderson Lab’ with Dr. Anderson, one of Grove City College’s mechanical engineering professors. Every school year, he has 10-15 students doing research for him for 1-3 credits. He also has students working with him at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts each summer. This semester, Dr. Anderson has 12 students working in his lab on seven different projects.
Below is an interview with one of the female mechanical engineering students currently doing research with Dr. Anderson. She shares more information on her research project and some benefits of doing research. For another interview with a student doing research with Dr. Anderson, check out this post.
Samantha Parry – Mechanical Engineering ’16, Astronomy Minor
What’s your project?
I’m studying the effect of turbulence on oyster behavior and ecology. I am working on PIV (Particle Image Velocimetry) analysis of oysters in a turbulent tank. I am analyzing data that was taken at WHOI to determine an absolute vertical velocity of oysters swimming in a turbulent tank at different turbulence levels by determining the velocity of the fluid and the relative velocity of the oyster larvae and subtracting the two using MATLAB.
How did you get involved in this research?
I applied to work in the Anderson Lab in the fall of my junior year because I went to one of his student’s research talks during sophomore year and thought the work was really interesting.
What skills (technical or non-technical) have you used the most during your research experience?
I have used the coding skills I learned as a freshman the most in my research. My research heavily involves programming in MATLAB, as well as understanding LabVIEW. Knowing MATLAB is crucial for my research’s success. It gives me the ability to generate the data result and to manipulate the data result to something everyone can understand.
What are some benefits of doing research?
This research helped to expand my career options and gave me a chance to do high-level work on my own. I also liked learning tools to do higher-level data analysis and programming by myself, and then being able to utilize them. It’s a very rewarding feeling when all your hard work pays off and you get the correct result that you’ve been debugging for days! It has extremely enriched my career options because in the engineering field, research experience is strongly encouraged pre-grad school. Dr. Anderson’s lab experience has granted me a summer internship between my junior and senior year, and for that I am extremely thankful.
Have you done research off-campus, like at a summer internship?
I was a research assistant with a professor at FAU (Florida Atlantic University) in his research lab. He specializes in bio-inspired propulsion systems and fluid dynamics research and does a lot of similar things as Dr. Anderson. A large part of my summer I spent on an individual project building an experimental setup for fluid dynamic research.
How has doing research shaped your plans for after graduation?
Doing research has taught me what it means to be in academia, and I learned that I like the lifestyle and the academic community. I am going to the University of Florida for graduate school next year for a PhD in Aerospace Engineering. Although the research topic is not the same, I have experience with researching and it gives me confidence to take this next step forward. I know that graduate admission committees selected me as a good candidate for their schools because I had research experience. I’d like to be a college professor someday, and doing research was extremely important experience required to be admitted to grad school. So for that, I am extremely thankful for this opportunity I had at Grove City College.