Over the last summer I had the opportunity to work as a Research Assistant at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Denver. This opportunity was offered to me by my professor Dr. Mark Siemens, he oversees the optics research lab and organized a diverse research group of undergraduate and graduate students. This position involved my assistance and support for the students that were performing different experiments on optical spectroscopy of perovskite materials (solar cells). My experience consisted of helping other research students but working on my own project as well.
Even though my major is Electrical Engineering, I was able to apply my knowledge and skills to a different field. The experiments involved the use of solar cells and technical devices to provide the necessary voltages, currents, and other measurements. This area was the one I focused the most, as many instruments are made by engineers for research purposes, which is a field of engineering I am also interested in. Although most of my coworkers where majoring in Physics, I was able to participate and assist them for the experiments with the solar cells.
The second part of the internship consisted of creating and developing my own project. This was definitely a challenge, but with the help of my professor and coworkers I was able to provide a final experiment that can still be used for other students after me. This project consisted of testing perovskite cells by exciting them with lasers at different temperatures. To accomplish this, I had to invest some time into getting the necessary equipment and making it work with the devices from the lab. Personally, this part was the most fun since I was able to do my own work and have different graduate students guide me through the research process.
There are many research assistant opportunities and jobs for undergraduate and graduate students at DU and in other places. I highly recommend them since you can experience what the research process is like while working on something you might find interesting.