STEP Undergrad Research Reflection

What? – A detailed description of what you did during your STEP experience.

Thanks to STEP, I was able to find a worthwhile method to apply the skills I learned in my classes.  This summer, I remained on OSU’s main campus for the summer term and did research with Dr. Mokashi, who was my professor for Statics and Dynamics, and another graduate student, and our primary focus was structural analysis.  More specifically, we studied damage detection and cohesive zone laws using a beam model.  Under the supervision of the grad student, I received different parameters to plug into a MATLAB code designed to graph different relationships, such as Energy vs. Moment.  I had to analyze each parameter and understand what each one meant and how it affected the results when the beam modes experienced loading.  For example, I had to understand how crack length affected the moment produced by the minimum and maximum forces.  As time went on, I earned more responsibilities and even got to analyze the beam being unloaded and then reloaded.  I graphed the results and reported them to the grad student, who in turn showed them to Dr. Mokashi.


So What? – A personal response to your STEP experience, including feelings, thoughts, judgments, and what you have learned about yourself and your assumptions from what you did and how you reacted.

Though relatively straightforward, the experience was worthwhile.  I learned a god deal about new and interesting topics such as cohesive zones and J-Integrals.  I also got to further advance my skills in coding, which is a key attribute in the engineering world.  I already had a good relationship with Dr. Mokashi through having classes with him, but this experience allowed me to know him better on a personal level.  This could prove beneficial for the future in case I need references, letters of recommendation, and such. Furthermore, it drives home the point that good relationships with faculty members can have long-term benefits.  I also observed that I was adaptable to new work environments and able to work well independently, while also being able to reach out for help when it was needed.

Now What? – Discuss how the things you experienced and learned during your STEP experience will affect your academic, personal, and life goals moving forward.

As previously stated, this research experience allowed me to hone my skills in coding, understand new engineering concepts, and build good relationships with faculty members.  Another positive effect this STEP experience will have is that it will open the doors for future job opportunities.  I did not land an internship last year and was not sure what to do from there.  Thankfully,  STEP helped show me a way to use what I learned and experience a taste of how it is actually used in the world.  This extra bit of knowledge will be beneficial, as it could be the deciding factor in whether or not I land an internship.  In addition to career opportunities, my STEP experience will assist me in my year as an RA.  I have a number of second-year residents, and one program I wanted to put on was something STEP-related.  I wanted to share my experience with others and let them see how great of an opportunity STEP is.  I am a firm believer in paying it forward, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so.