My name is Katherine Rothe, and I am a sophomore Computer Engineering Major at Purdue. This summer, I am working at Western Michigan University as a Research Assistant in the Speech Pathology Department. The great thing about being a programmer is that there are lots of available fields to work in. The project I am working on is looking at middle ear contractions as a reaction to loud noises. I am programming many facets of the project, from data acquisition to analysis to essentially a video game for distraction purposes. It’s a very educational experience, because I get to work with a new programming language (MATLAB) and learn about the biology behind the middle ear contractions. I also get to learn how to measure muscle reactions, and do otoscopy (looking in the ear).
The great thing about having a research internship, especially at a university, is that it opens a lot of doors. The main thing that I get out of this internship is great experience: I work with different types of equipment, programming languages, and am becoming adept at things employers value, like data analysis and research. I also have a good measure of autonomy on my projects, which means I am told what to do and have a degree of freedom for the tasks.
Overall, the internship has been really fun and educational. It opens a lot of doors, as well, primarily experience which is important to employers.
This is my first summer staying at Purdue, and I have to say it is not quite what I expected. I am currently taking my last math class, doing undergraduate research, and holding a part time job, so needless to say I am keeping myself busy. Yet I still find myself missing the “normal” Purdue atmosphere. I miss the Big Ten sports. I miss the energy that the full student body brings to campus each fall and spring. I miss all the friends I have made here since freshman year, most of who are around the country with internships, research opportunities, or just relaxing back at home. All of these things I miss are what makes Purdue home to me each fall and spring semester.
Before I get everyone thinking that Purdue is a place to be avoided in the summer I should state that I have some awesome opportunities available to me here. I get to work with a professor on a research project pertaining to a copper alloy he is attempting to patent, something I would have never gotten to do had I stayed back home for the summer. I am excited to be able to do some meaningful, real world engineering work while having the flexibility of being able to work and take a class.
There are still plenty of things to do here on (and off) campus during the summer, from intramural sports on campus to going to Chicago or Indianapolis for a day or weekend. The atmosphere on campus is also calmer, quieter from the lack of students, something I appreciate when attempting to do homework on campus. I still miss the hustle and bustle of the fall and spring semester, but something can be said for a break from all the commotion that those semesters bring. So I am savoring my “relaxation” time I have this summer, as I know once I go into the real world and get my full-time job I will miss these days.