College Advice

College is an incredible time for anyone to learn and grow as individual but it can also be overwhelming and stressful when you get in the thick of your classes and the work starts to pile up, or the exam grades come back.  Some great resources for destressing and making the most of your college experience can come from a variety of sources, including college blogs like The College Prepster.  The College Prepster is a blog created to inspire and motivate college students as they try to balance work and play in college, and offers resources for studying and advice on the college tab.

Another motivating blog to follow is Maxie McCoy.  Maxie’s goal is to provide you the tools you need to reach your goals by helping you refocus your energy and stay motivated.  Both blogs offer great advice on being your best self and working towards your goals in addition to fashion advice, upcoming books and movies to look out for, and even some recommended study breaks!  If you ever need a break from school or some help on kicking your procrastination habits, these blogs offer quick tips that are easy to use.

Stephanie Godoshian


Research Experiences for Undergraduates

What’s an REU?

The National Science Foundation funds Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) at colleges across the country. While participating in an REU, you are essentially a full time graduate student for 10-12 weeks during the summer. Participants receive a stipend and complete their own research project alongside professors and grad students.

Two members of the SWE executive board participated in REUs last summer and wanted to share their experiences with you!

Tell me about yourself!

Fiona O’Dowd: I’m a junior in Materials Science & Engineering, and am currently one of the Outreach Co-Directors for SWE. Last summer, I participated in the REU program Polymer Innovation for a Sustainable Future at the University of Southern Mississippi in their School of Polymer Science and  Engineering.

Megan Lim: Hello! I am a sophomore in Chemical Engineering and a professional chair for SWE. I spent the summer after my freshman year in a Security Printing and Anti-Counterfeiting Technology program at South Dakota State University in an analytical chemistry lab.

 How did you learn about this opportunity?

FO: I first learned about it from the MSE department seminar in the fall, and was encouraged more by the professor I was doing research with last year.

ML: I was job hunting for a summer experience and stumbled upon the opportunity.

What did the application process consist of?

FO: Most of the schools I looked at required 2-4 short essays (~250 words) about our relevant experiences and why we wanted to take part in the specific REUs. We also had to send two letters of recommendation along with our transcripts.

ML: One tip would be to thoroughly research what past REU and/or grad students working under that lab have done before to make your personal essay stand out. Don’t be afraid if you think you have no experience – apply anyway if it interests you.

Tell me about your project!

FO: I studied a fabrication method for nanocapsules made from highly controlled synthetic polymers. They have future applications in specialized drug delivery, such as when treating cancer, or in medical imaging.

ML: I developed a new method to create chemical fingerprints for aspirin brands by altering a gas-chromatography mass-spectrometry preparation method. Ideally, we can more easily detect counterfeit drugs in a cost-effective method that will not require expensive machinery or extensive knowledge.

What was your social life like during the summer on a new college campus?

FO: It was really fun! I was in a part of the country I’d never been before, which was a cool experience. I spent my weekends going to Alabama and Florida beaches, spending time with other REUs and current grad students at local places, eating amazing Gulf coast seafood, and exploring Hattiesburg and New Orleans!

REU_3            REU_4

ML: I had never been to South Dakota before, and believe it or not it is more interesting than one might assume. I was able to visit Mt. Rushmore and climb the Crazy Horse Memorial (which you can only do on 2 days of the year!) with my lab group, attend a conference in Pierre, spend a few days in Sioux Falls, and visit downtown Minneapolis along with an amusement park there. Because all the REUs lived on the floor, it was convenient to hitch a ride to the supermarket and insightful to hear about the different projects we were all doing.


Was being on a new campus surrounded by new people stressful at all?

FO: Not for me personally. I really like being in new environments, and I kept busy the whole time. There was a large support network of the grad students in the department who helped us find things to do and were able to answer any questions we needed.

ML: It was a bit daunting at first, but like Fiona said, I was pretty busy between lab work and cooking on my own. As we all lived together, it was pretty easy to find friends from disparate universities. Also intimidating was working with a bunch of professors and grad students on a closer level, but it ultimately turned into a productive learning environment.

How was your housing situation handled?

FO: All of the REUs lived on the same floor of a dorm, which was reserved and paid for by the program. We filled out a survey before arrival that paired us with a roommate. It was great to be in an environment with only other REUs.

ML: I actually got a single suite-style room in their renovated residence hall, but most other students had roommates who were in the same lab as they were. The reservations and cost were also taken care of by the program.

Would you recommend REU for students who are unsure if they want to pursue grad school?

FO: YES!! My REU experience really solidified my decision that I want to pursue my PhD. For others, it could help you decide that you really don’t want to go to grad school. A 12 week summer program is a much smaller commitment than 6 years of grad school.

ML: Yes! Unlike Fiona, while I had a great experience working in the lab, I decidedly do not want to go to grad school after talking to the current grad students both in South Dakota and Purdue. I would say an REU is a low-risk way to find out what it is like doing research full-time, as opposed to doing it on campus while taking classes.


Why did you choose your program?

FO: All of the REUs I applied to had a sustainability focus, which really helped to narrow down my search for schools. I’m interested in the polymers/composites area of materials engineering, and USM is one of the top polymer schools in the country, so that was a major deciding factor for me.

ML: At the time being, I thought I wanted to do something medical-related career wise. I applied to five different programs and only got accepted into one, so I went with that route.

Why did you apply to REUs?

FO: I didn’t get in internship during IR, and it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me! Over winter break, I decided I wanted to do research over the summer instead of continuing to look for an internship opportunity. I opted to do an REU over SURF or any other program at Purdue because I wanted to learn more about Materials Engineering at other universities and wanted a change of scenery. Also, my advisor told me to.

ML: I was looking for some sort of industrial or research internship. The nice thing about REUs is that they often have a late application due date, so I applied for both industry internships and REUs simultaneously. The pay wasn’t half bad either, considering most pay for room, food stipends, and you get a salary stipend. Some will also pay for travel.

What is your favorite memory from your REU?

FO: An undergrad who was doing research at USM and was from Hattiesburg was shocked to hear none of the REUs had ever been to a crawfish boil. She and her family threw a HUGE crawfish boil for a lot of people in the department, which is when you cook crawfish, potatoes, corn, and an unreal amount of spices in a HUGE pot over a fire outside. After it cooks, you dump all the food on a paper-covered table to share. It was the most fun I’ve ever had eating and was an experience I couldn’t have had anywhere else in the country.

ML: I really enjoyed hiking up the Crazy Horse Memorial because it was a unique experience and allowed me to bond with my lab group. I was slightly embarrassed when my decidedly older mentor half jogged the 5 mile uphill hike as I struggled along, but in the end we all made it. Another fun event was going to ValleyFair Amusement Park with my lab group.

What advice would you give to someone interested in REU?

FO: Apply to a bunch of them! They are pretty competitive to get into, and they’re all looking for something else. Some want people with significant research experience, some want students with no experience, and most want a mix. The more you apply to, the better your chances. Plus, the essay questions are all pretty similar so once you write a couple you can kind of Frankenstein them together with pretty minimal effort.

ML: What Fiona said! Also, consider applying to lesser-known universities as that may increase your chances as well.

What kind of things did you do at the school besides research?

FO: For the first few weeks, we had class every morning where we were essentially given a super-condensed crash course in polymer science. Throughout the summer, we gave oral and poster presentations on our work to the rest of the department. We also organized and volunteered at two polymer science outreach events for local kids attending camps at USM.

ML: We would have weekly seminars from industry experts on counterfeiting, and we also had weekly lab lunches. At the end of the summer, we presented our research along with all the other REU students in the state of South Dakota.

How do I apply??

Go to the NSF website, and start searching!




Thanksgiving Destresser

Happy Fall PSWE!

We are so close to Thanksgiving break! As final exams draw near, remember to take some time to enjoy the company of friends and remind yourself of all the wonderful things life has to offer. It is the season to be thankful, after all. Go big and plan a Friendsgiving, or stay in and treat yourself to some homemade easy pumpkin pie pops (recipe below). Either way, be sure to check out these fun Thanksgiving themed ideas and activities!

  • Recipe for Mini Pumpkin Pie Pops HERE

  • Watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
  • Make a list of things you’re thankful for and share with friends
  • Do some Thanksgiving or fall-related coloring pages (which can be SUPER stress-relieving)
  • Play some festive games with your friends, like Pin the Tail on the Turkey, bobbing for apples, or Thanksgiving Bingo
  • If you’re thinking of hosting a Friendsgiving dinner, prepare for it by reading these Stress-Free Party Hosting Ideas and Guidelines HERE


Have a wonderful Thanksgiving break!

-Jenna Greene

Weekly Destresser: October 20, 2017

Hello, and welcome to the first weekly destresser of the school year! After over a month of school and a seemingly endless round of exams, a good destresser is just what I need right about now.

Since it’s officially October, I’m sure most of us are starting to get into the Halloween spirit. If you like spooky, funny, and/or cute things, you’re in the right place. And, for those of you who, like me, don’t have a Halloween costume picked out yet, this is the perfect inspiration for you. Note-taking is optional (I mean, this IS a destresser, people).

Check out these pets who TOTALLY nailed their Halloween costumes.

Take some time to relax this weekend, perhaps by creating your (or your pet’s) epicHalloween costume.

By Jenna Greene

Some Thoughts on Bathrooms and Women in STEM (from a Woman in STEM)

I want to take you on a tour of the Physics Building on campus. Based on what I found in a brief search online, the current building was opened in 1941. It is still used frequently today for the physics courses all engineers are required to take.

To get to a women’s restroom, you have to follow signs like the one I’ve posted here. Half a dozen of these signs will lead you through numerous hallways, past most of the classrooms, past two men’s restrooms, until finally you reach a women’s room in a barely used hallway. Without the signs, you would probably never find it. Once you’re there, the bathroom itself appears to literally be a closet that was converted into a bathroom.

Here’s why I find this so compelling.

When this building was made over 70 years ago, women were pushed so far out of the picture of STEM fields, the original designer didn’t even need to consider that women would be there at all. There was no thought that a woman might need to be inside a Physics Building.

I want to make it clear that I am not offended by this. I understand that a whole building can’t be remodeled just to add a bathroom in a more convenient place. Rather, I find it somewhat inspiring, motivational even. It shows how far we have come, that women are now in these buildings and taking an active role in STEM fields. Obviously there is a long way to go given current statistics on women in the STEM workforce (an estimated 24% according to the most recent census), but it’s nice to look back and see what steps have been made.

I have also run into a similar bathroom problem in the old Mechanical Engineering Building (Built in 1932). However, it motivates me to know that I am studying in a field that 70 years ago, I would have been seen as unfit for. 70 years ago, the idea of me being in the Mechanical Engineering Building was so unthinkable, they didn’t even include women’s restrooms.

And it’s a comfort to know that when I leave thermodynamics and need to find the bathroom, I can go to the new wing of the Mechanical Engineering Building (Built in 2009) and easily find a women’s room right next to the men’s.

By Lexie Ziolkowski

Solar Eclipse

On Monday August 21, 2017 the Purdue University campus will be treated to a glimpse of a solar eclipse. A solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the earth and the sun casting a shadow on the earth. While West Lafayette is not in the path of totality, meaning full coverage if the sun by the moon we will see 90 percent coverage. Looking directly at the solar eclipse can be extremely harmful to our eyes so a few groups around campus are hosting safe viewing events. Below you will find a list of the informational events happening around campus.

The College of Education and Center for Advancing the Teaching and Learning of STEM (CATALYST): 1-4 pm at the Loeb Fountain

The Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and Purdue Astronomy Club: 12 pm on the south end of Memorial Mall

David Sederberg a Physics and Astronomy Outreach Coordinator will be on hand at the College of Education viewing event to demonstrate how to properly view the solar eclipse through a telescope. Sanjay Rebello who is a professor of Science Education, Physics and Astronomy will be giving a brief talk on solar eclipses at 2:45 pm.

Have fun, be safe and enjoy this natural phenomenon!

-Audrey Conrad

Meet the Board: Gail Fukumoto

This is another spotlight on our board members, as part of our Meet the Board series. Today, we feature Gail Fukumoto, the Trade Show Chair. The Trade Show is from 9:30am-4:30pm on Wednesday at both Armstrong and Forney atriums. 

1. Why did you choose to be the Trade Show Chair?

I chose Trade Show because it allows me to reach out to and help engineers outside of SWE. I’m having a blast working with representatives from other STEM diversity organizations to plan the Trade Show!

2. What are your plans for the summer?

My summer plans are up in the air at this point, but I’m looking to intern or gain lab experience during my time away from school.

3. Why did you join PSWE?

I joined PSWE because of its professional opportunities, but I’ve come to love it because I get to work and hang out with like-minded individuals. It’s everything that I could ever want in a club—SWE gives its members the opportunity to join intramural teams, do community service, and attend social events with free food!

4. What is your favorite TV show, and why?

I don’t watch TV nowadays, but I loved watching White Collar in high school because of the funny, witty, and charming characters.

5. Why did you choose your major?

I chose Materials Science Engineering because of its breadth and depth. I initially chose Materials because I wanted to learn about solar cells and renewable energy, but I’m open to exploring other types of materials.

6. What is your favorite restaurant?

I love so many restaurants, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be Roy’s, an Asian fusion restaurant located in Hawaii. However, no restaurant’s food can compare to my Mom’s Salmon Poke.

-Subhiksha, your editor