April 2009 Archives
Next Saturday I am flying out to Phoenix AZ for a week of vacation. My girlfriend’s parents have a timeshare, so they offered to bring us with them. I have been to Arizona before, but I was really young and I don’t really remember it. Unfortunately though, the world doesn’t stop spinning when I go on vacation. I am going to have to make up a lot of work when I get back.
Luckily, there is no class on Monday or Friday this week. So there will not be a lot of work assigned. This means I will not have to pass in a lab report next week, and it also only gives some of my teacher’s one class to assign homework’s or announce tests. Typically tests are announced at least one week in advance. However, I will be missing one test next week, as well as three lab dates. I have a friend covering the lab that I instruct, but I will need to make up a couple of the lab sessions I miss.
The good news is that I have developed a good relationship with my professors over the years, so I don’t think they will have any problems with me making up the work. Even though the work load will be heavy when I get back, I think overall the trip will be worth it. I am really excited to go to Phoenix and stay on a resort. I can’t wait to see the Grand Canyon! I will let you know how things go when I get to AZ.
This Wednesday is the spring career fair. Every semester UML has a career fair on east campus in the CRC (campus recreation center). Recruiters from all over the country come to the career fair looking for interns, co-ops and full time workers from all majors of study. In my opinion, the career fair is a great way to see what kind of jobs are available in your field of study, and meet some great people. This will be my third career fair at Umass Lowell.
What I am looking for is a summer internship, with the possibility of a full time career next winter. Even though I have already been to two career fairs before, and I have previously had two internships. I must admit I am very nervous about this upcoming Wednesday. One reason is because I am getting close to graduation, as I should be finishing my undergraduate in December. But I am also concerned about how many employers are going.
For engineers, there are typically 3 types of recruiters:
1. All Majors Recruiters: Here is where you find all of the armed forces recruiters (US Army, The Airforce, The Marines and The Navy). You can also find the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), The Secret Service and UPS in this category.
2. All Engineering Recruiters: Usually this category consists of big engineering firms that are looking for people with well rounded educations. They typically consist of government contractors like Textron, Raytheon, and Teradyne.
3. Specific Engineering Recruiters: These are the type of recruiters looking for a certain type of engineer, like plastics, mechanical or electrical. This is typically the category I put most of my focus into.
The problem is, that there are only about 5 companies in the third category coming for plastics engineering. Another issue is that there are still a few of my classmates that don’t have full time jobs lined up, and they are graduating in about a month. What this means is that there will be a lot of competition for only a few potential jobs. Nonetheless, I will still go to this career fair putting my best foot forward, and hopefully I can find a job.
These past two semesters I have worked on campus as a teaching assistant for the plastics processing labs. The duties of this job include running expirements, teaching students, and grading lab reports. Last semester I ran a laboratory experiment for impact testing of films, and testing hardness of injection molded impact disks. The experiment itself only involved testing equipment, so it was difficult to keep the experiment interesting. This semester is a lot better.
This semester I am in charge of the blow molding experiment for the sophomore processing laboratory. Blow molding is a process used to make plastic bottles. There are two types of blow molding, stretch blow molding and extrusion blow molding. In my lab, we use an extrusion blow molder. The focus of the experiment is to adjust the screw speed, and measure its effects on bottle weight and wall thickness. The experiment this semester is a lot more interesting for the students, so for that reason it is a lot more fun for me to run.
Being a teaching assistant these past two semesters has given me a chance to make friends with many of the underclassmen in my program. I enjoy my job; it’s good to feel like I am giving something back to the school. I hope to be a TA next semester as well as when I am a graduate student.
This semester I volunteered to take part in a non-funded undergraduate research project. I am working with one other undergraduate student, and a grad student is working as our advisor. The scope of this project is to test the mechanical properties of plastics with different amounts of rubber filler. The filler being used is reground tires. If the mechanical properties see a significant increase, we may find a successful way to recycle car tires.
The first step was to have a meeting with the professor in charge of the project, and lay out a plan. In this meeting we determined what the batches of material and filler we would use. The material being used is polypropylene, and the fillers are measured by different mesh sizes, which are 140 and 200. We will also be using compatibilizers in some of the batches.
The next step in this project is to compound these materials using a twin screw extruder. This means, the two different materials will be melted, and extruded into one strand, then reground to make one batch of material. These different batches of material will be injection molded into tensile bars, flexural bars, and impact disks. We are going to try and find a family mold that has all three. Once these samples are made, they will be undergoing numerous tests to determine mechanical properties.
The results of this project are going to be presented next winter at the ACS rubber show in Pittsburgh, PA. So far, we have determined the batches of material, located our base material, and cleaned and programmed the twin screw extruder. I will let you know how this project is going once we get closer to the presentation date.