What advice do you have for undergraduates who are just starting out in research?Absorb as much information as possible. Always take notes. You won't understand everything immediately, you will need to refer to your old notes constantly.
What are your current plans/career goals beyond the undergraduate?
Once I graduate, I plan to get work experience in the aerospace industry then return to grad school to further my education.
Why did you choose get involved in undergraduate research?
I wanted to get involved in undergraduate research because I wanted to apply what I have learned in class in a very technical way. Dr. Christian subbed for my class and talked about his area of research. I emailed him after that class and we met a couple times to discuss his research.
What is your current research?
My research is focused on small spacecraft navigation. There has been an increase in the use of small satellites in the last few years, and with that, the need for smaller navigation systems has increased as well. Specifically, my research involves the development of a smaller, cheaper, Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU). The IMU will output angular velocity, linear acceleration, and relative position. Previous work at the Applied Space Exploration Lab has involved calibration of the gyroscopes on the IMU. The second generation of the IMU is set to launch in November on a sounding rocket flight at NASA Wallops.
What skills have you learned by doing research that you would not have learned otherwise (i.e., from lecture alone)?
I have learned a lot of valuable hands on skills that I would not have learned in lectures. Part of my research was to help design a payload for the sounding rocket flight so I learned to work with machine shops and what kind of materials are best for certain situations. Currently, I am working on my coding skills and learning how to decode and parse binary data.