College of Engineering
Faculty Mentor: Yong Lin Kong (Mechanical Engineering, University of Utah)
In the midst of the coronavirus 2019 disease, I was in search of joining a research lab to improve my experiences for medical school. I applied to multiple research labs but I had difficulty getting interviews for one as during COVID-19 most labs were kicking out all of the undergraduate students to limit the amount of exposure. That is until Dr. Yong Lin Kong responded to my request to be a part of their lab. I still remember the details of our interview because I was so thankful for the opportunity that Dr. Kong gave me in the midst of a pandemic. I was honest and told him that I had no experience in the biomedical/mechanical engineering field (as I was a health society and policy major) but yet he told me that I would be able to trained and learn along the way. I am so thankful he took a chance on me and helped me find my passion for research.
Everything in research was new to me. Dr. Kong and I agreed to meet every week to connect on my progress and he would have a graduate student train/guide me along the way. I learned how to do research, specifically 3D printing research in the most hands on manner. I learned how to use a 3D printer, perform ink synthesis, and conduct my own experiments. Dr. Kong had me keep a journal that focused on describing my hypothesis-based experiments to help guide my research in a quantitative and qualitative way. We also had weekly team meetings with other members in the lab to share about what progress we’ve made in our research. This was also a great space to speak about challenges that we’ve faced throughout our research in order to get outside opinions.
I learned that research takes grit and patience. I gained to love the feeling of something finally going the way you had been working towards. I also enjoyed those ‘eureka’ moments of finding out why things weren’t going the way you planned. I grew my knowledge on biodegradable transient electronics and found that research also has a focus on literature review. I gradually learned how to read scientific papers and how to connect them to creating a hypothesis for your own research.
I am also grateful for the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) that helped fund my passion for research. UROP allowed me to continue doing research without the limitations of cost while being an undergraduate college student. I also learned through UROP how to present my research. The program gave me the opportunity to present and engage with others on the details of my research.
Prior to knowing what research really was I had no idea how much it would mean to me now. I am so thankful for Dr. Kong and the members of the additive manufacturing lab that taught me the inner works of engineering research. My experience has taught me how to create my own hypothesis and follow through with experimentation. It has also taught me the importance of literature review and teamwork. Most importantly, it has taught me the virtue of patience as research can have its challenging bumps and not always go the way you expect it to go.