Purdue Ag Alumni’s Graduate Student Industry Tour: An Eye Opening Experience

During the semester Fall break, Purdue College of Agriculture and Purdue Ag Alumni offered the first Graduate Student Industry tour which highlights some of the great companies in and around Indianapolis and learned about their core businesses, laboratory facilities, and work environments. Fifty graduate students under the College of Agriculture participated on the tour along with some of the faculty members and staffs, including Dr. Barbara L. Golden from Department of Biochemistry and Dr. Shawn S. Donkin from Department of Animal Sciences. The tour was managed by Ag Alumni Program Manager, Danica C. Kirkpatrick.

As an international graduate student, I was very excited to be selected for this tour because just like many students who participated on this tour, I still have a little idea about career opportunities and the day-to-day rhythms of the workplace. Providing students to tour a company helps gain a firsthand knowledge of the technologies and skills apply especially in STEM-related jobs.

The two days tour started on October 9th includes a visit to Dow AgroSciences headquarter, Eli Lily and Company corporate campus, Roche Diagnostics and Indiana Biosciences Research Institute (IBRI). I also attended a poster session and a networking reception at the 2017 BioCrossroads Indiana Life Science Summit. In the networking event, I met with the members of the Indy Science Connect networking organization and industry professionals from companies like Eli Lily, Dow AgroSciences, and Labcyte Inc. I had the opportunity to engage with them in STEM research and think about how I might connect to tech-related jobs post graduation or participate in an internship program. 

With some of the students at the 2017 BioCrossroads Indiana Life Science Summit
With some of the students at the 2017 BioCrossroads Indiana Life Science Summit

This tour has been an eye-opening experience because I was impressed by the diversity of life science ecosystems in Indiana, especially in and around Indianapolis. It was also inspiring to learn from the Purdue alumni and other industry professionals about their journey to building a successful career after leaving the school. On a fun note, I also had the chance to meet new friends and explore the city together. I hope Purdue will keep on supporting such accessible interactive event that will enrich students experience during their graduate studies.

A group picture in front of Dow AgroSciences headquarter (thank you, Jennifer Hale, from Dow AgroSciences for the picture).
A group picture in front of Dow AgroSciences headquarter (thank you, Jennifer Hale, from Dow AgroSciences for the picture).

Due to company policy, taking a picture is not allowed most of the times during the tour but here is some information about the companies to share a bit of excitement about the tour:

Founded in the 1950s, Dow AgroSciences has been a part of Indiana’s agriculture heritage and is one of the biggest companies that develop sustainable chemical and biotechnology solutions for increasing crop productivity. Ely Lily is an American global pharmaceutical company that was founded by Colonel Eli Lily in 1876. They have developed and delivered trusted medicines includes treatments in the areas of oncology, cardiovascular, diabetes, critical care, neuroscience, men’s health and musculoskeletal fields. Roche Diagnostics is a part of the Roche company businesses, one of the largest biotechnologies company in the world. Roche Diagnostics focus on delivering diagnostic solutions to provide sustainable healthcare and improve people’s lives. Meanwhile, IBRI is a relatively new institute founded in 2012 that has a mission to bring world-class research talents to Indiana to enable discovery science and innovation, working in collaboration with academic and industry researcher.

Experiences of the Purdue Study Abroad Program

I learned Spanish as my second language ten years ago. When I took the course, the instructor said that if you want to improve or even make a great progress of your Spanish, you must go to Spain or any other country speaking Spanish. Two years ago when I walked in the hallway in MSEE building, a professor asked me ”Are you interested in being TA in study abroad course next Maysemester? We will go to Spain for three weeks.” What? Going to Spain! Yes! Absolutely!

I went to Spain in May semester in the past two years. I have been to Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville. I spent three weeks each year in Spain and learned a lot of fun Spanish culture. The class was in the whole morning everyday and students might do their homework in the afternoon or visit attractions around the city. As TA in this class, my job was to take care of all the students not only on their homework but on their safeties as well. Most of the time, I roamed in the city with the students, having the must-eat paella, must-watch flamenco dance, and must-visit Basilica of the Sagrada Familia. We also found a bistro serving almost unlimited tapas. You ordered any kind of drinks and the bistro gave you all tapas they made. The tapa is one of famous cuisine in Spain. You may think tapa as appetizer. It may be cold or hot. In fact, a tapa is a small portion of any kind of Spanish cuisine.

Since it costs less (three or four euros depending on the alcohol people order), students went there for their dinner several times. I did not drink and I don’t drink. So, I ordered orange juice. When I ordered orange juice, the server thought I wanted orange juice with alcohol. After 5 –minute explanation with my poor Spanish, he understood with his weird smile. I was glad that I ordered my pure orange juice andhe was also surprised that someone did not drink alcohol in the bistro. After three days, I went to the bistro again. The server recognized me and gave me orange juice right away. I thought to myself that “I want apple juice or just water.”

In the first year, five students and I decided to visit Rome at the last minute on the three-day long weekend. I made an absolutely wise decision to visit another country. I never forget what a colossal coliseum it is. When I went out of the subway, I was not ready yet to see the amphitheater. But, this tremendous building, one of seven wonders of the world, was right in the front of me. I couldn’t wait to visit inside. To my surprise, in the arena, I ran into a college friend who we have not met for more than ten years after the graduation. What a small world! It reminds me that all roads lead to Rome. So, next time if you really want to meet someone, go to coliseum!

This year, we had a cooking class. We learned to cook one of the famous Spanish food: tortilla (Spanish potato omelette). The chief told us the procedure. We peeled potatoes and cut them as diced potatoes. Then, we deep-fried the diced potatoes. After that, we put the fried potatoes into the eggs and slice onions. Mix and smear evenly before we pan-fry them. The difficulty was to flip the thick omelette and pan-fry again. I love this dish. Students and I were glad that we had a great opportunity to cook Spanish food taught by real Spanish people. The fun fact is the day after I came back to the U.S., I went to the supermarket and bought the ingredients to make the tortilla again.

At Sevilla, we had pre-talk of bullfight.We learned the history of bull fight and why Spanish people had bullfight. The bull fighter, called the matador, also wore his custom and told us the function of each part he had. Some students and I also went on stage experiencing how to trick the bull with their big and heavy red rag. Some students refused to watch bullfight in the beginning because they thought it was really cruel. However, after the pre-talk, they learned the custom/reason why Spanish people continue to have this event each year and how they were going to treat the bulls after they were killed. Some students changed their minds and would like to watch the game in live because they wanted to be more involved in Spanish culture not just listening the presentation but also watching the real show. They wanted to see what was going on and tried to deal with the cultural difference. Not always thinking from their own side, students wanted to pretend they are Spanish and figure it out why the bullfight event continues. This is also the spirit of Boiler Abroad.

I was glad that I had the chance to visit Spain and practice my Spanish. I also immersed myself into the local culture. It was a great experience to learn professional and cultural knowledge at the same time. This program provides me to gain global perspective and intercultural experience. If you have this chance, don’t miss it!

Barcelona Purdue Flag Biking in Seville Bullfight in Madrid Seville
Paris Madrid Palace Bullfight in Seville Host Family in Seville

 

 

 

Waiting for the Show

An Ordinary Atypical Day as a Graduate Student

Hellooooo World!!! I am David and in this post I am going to talk about one of the (special) days that I have lived and enjoyed here at Purdue University.

First of all, you would say… “this guy made a mistake in the title.” Well, that may be true, but read it again slowly… As a graduate student, everyday is different, everyday is atypical because you have the power to organize yourself, to build each day as a different day and not stick to the routine (or stick to it if it is what you need). That is why I call this piece of enjoyable reading “an ordinary atypical day as graduate student.”

The day I am going to talk about was a Cold Day in the Sun and it was special because I went to one of the best concerts I have ever been. It was one of These Days that you wake up and you say: “David, today you have to give The Best of You ” and you get up with energy because you know what is coming. The good thing of being in grad school is that you do not have imposed everyday schedules and the bad thing is that you have deadlines and meetings.

At the Show
David waiting for the show!

Two of them were scheduled for that morning. I always complain about meeting, I think I have too many, that distract me from doing research that is what I want to do All my Life. But I have to recognize that meetings in graduate school teach you as much as the research itself if one is able to see the big picture. Being a researcher is not only to spend time in the lab, but built confidence on yourself and your work and share it with the research community. This last part, in which a lot of us (young researchers) miserably fail is the Generator of future research. In meetings you can learn how to interact with people, how to express your ideas to different kind of public and how to motivate young researchers (also, sometimes you learn how you should not behave, but let’s stick to the positive things).

The two morning meetings were exhausting for My Poor Brain, so we decided to go have lunch around Lafayette. There are amazing places to eat here in Lafayette-West Lafayette. I think the multicultural environment around the university has brought the best of each place around the world to this town in Indiana. The food is one of them and I especially enjoy Asiatic food so we decided to go to a Japanese restaurant here in West Lafayette (I will not write names to avoid advertising buuuut if you need info about good food around here you can reach me).

After lunch, time to do research. This is something important that I have learned during my time at Purdue: even when you are Exhausted, you have to progress everyday in your research. You choose your pace and the way you do it, since normally supervisors leave you Enough Space to be your own boss the most part of the time, but the progress needs to be there. So that special and cold day, I spent four hours in the lab before hitting the road for that concert I waited Everlong. The concert, unfortunately, was not in West Lafayette, but if you (or one of your friends) have a car it is normal to drive one or two hours to see one amazing spectacle that normally you are not able to enjoy in the place you are from. Lafayette is one hour drive from Indianapolis where I have been in several concerts of all kind of music and sports spectacles as NBA games, NFL games and motor races in the famous Motor Speedway of Indianapolis. If one drives North for two hours, one arrives to the Windy City: Chicago. Obviously if in Indianapolis you can enjoy all the aforementioned shows, you cannot imagine in Chicago, but this will be for another post.

Coming back to our special day, we drove west to Urbana, Illinois. It is a place similar to Lafayette, maybe a bit bigger, but one of the best groups of the world (and history) was playing there. The concert was amazing. It was a three hours concert with the top hits of this group, which name for the moment I have not mentioned. When you go to a concert like that, it is difficult to put in a paper how you and the people around you feel, so if you are curious, you know… come to Purdue.


A nice moment during the concert.

 The concert finished around midnight, and we had to come back home. Moreover, when you pass from Illinois to Indiana you have to add one hour more, so at the end of the day (or the beginning of the next day) we were pretty much dead, and you feel even worse thinking that the next day I had another meeting. But I know that Times Like These are unforgettable in all the senses, for work and for leisure so I always enjoy the ride to Purdue and at Purdue, and I am ready to Learn to Fly thanks to the Boilermaker spirit!!

I hope you enjoy the reading and for future posts… I’ll Stick Around so you should too!

Best wishes to everyone!
David Gonzalez Cuadrado

P.S.: I did not say the name of the band…. If you are fans you should have guessed it in the second paragraph!! For the ones not into rock music, go to Youtube, look for the bold and cursive titles in the text and enjoy the music!!