STEM EE Capstone – “Plant Health Monitor”

Among us on planet Earth live some very important organisms, these are plants. Plants help clean our air, as well as produce clean oxygen for other living creatures that need it; They also protect us from many natural disasters. For that and many other reasons, a lot of people like to take care of plants of their own. Some people have a lot of time to take care of them, but a particular group of people, might not have a lot of time; These group of people are students and even very hard workers. Sometimes these people have so much on their minds, that they forget to feed their plant/s, water their plants or move them to a spot with more light. With the purpose of helping this group of people remember to take care of their plants, this prototype was developed; the “Plant Health Monitor”.  The “Plant Health Monitor”, is a small device that has two main sensors: a water level sensor, and a light sensor (photoresistor). By utilizing these sensors, the device will be able to alert the plants’ owner about the plant’s health status. This prototype was made with four key requirements in mind: 1. It had to let its user know the level of water that the plants’ soil had (too much water, too dry or perfect), in an alarm like way. 2. It had to let its user know if the plant was receiving enough light exposure (and how much), in an alarm like way. 3. It should be less expensive than the products similar to this prototype, currently out in the market. 4. Finally, it had to be able to notify in an easy to understand way, to anyone (even if you were deaf or blind). By meeting all of these goals, the “Plant Health Monitor” will be able to help students/workers to take care of their plants.


This project started due to a prototype project that is part of one of my mechanical courses, ME 2900. Therefore at the beginning, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to invent, all I knew was that I wanted to build something that would be useful to the community. Therefore I started the project by brainstorming, as all ideas start. I decided to go and talk with some of my classmates at OSU and showed them some of the ideas/community problems I had come up with, and to my surprise, a lot of them agreed that it would be good to have a monitor for plants. Since they have wanted to have plants, however when they did, due to how busy they were, they sometimes forgot to take care of the plants and the plants ended up dying. Besides talking with students, I also started to plan out some of the ideas I had come up with, to see how viable they were for me to make, with what I had available. In order to do this, I looked at the list of materials provided to us from the ME 2900 course. I also researched about current “Plant Health Monitors” in the market, and although the great majority are very advanced, they are also very expensive for a great part of the population that would like to use them. After analyzing many factors, I decided to pursue making a prototype of a “Plant Health Monitor”. The following, were the main components to be used to develop the “Plant Health Monitor”:  a water level sensor, photoresistor (light sensor), RGB LED (red, green, and blue LED), Piezo buzzer (will play a sound that is desired), buttons, and an LCD display (small screen to display text).  Some additional components that were considered were a temperature and humidity sensor, as well as a servo motor. In addition, to make all of these components work, the program called Arduino, was used to communicate with the Arduino board (which is similar to a small computer). These components were going to be used no matter what, however, I initially did not completely understand how to use all of them. Therefore, I would have to ask and speak with my ME 2900 professor, GTAs for ME 2900 and also do research and testing of my own to better understand the components I was going to be using. Some problems that could arise along the development of the prototype were possible inefficiency of a component that was going to be used, or that maybe one of the components that I had no previous experience with did not work in the way that I needed it too. Due to these possible problems arising, the following plan was developed to approach the development of the “Plant Health Monitor” prototype: First, assuming that all of the components worked as desired, sketches would be made, both for coding them in Arduino and its physical design, to organize how the device would be organized both physically and electronically. Second, the functions wanted for each component to be used would be clearly written out, in order to organize how the device would exactly work. Third, I would talk with my ME 2900 professor, GTAs and do my own research/testing to see how each component worked in comparison to what I needed them to do for the device. Lastly, I would write the Arduino code, in separated part per component, and depending on how each component worked individually, the complete code would be put together while assembling the components on the Arduino board.


In this way, I started to think of the different ways I could put the chosen components together to achieve the goals I had set for the prototype, as well as some restrictions in terms of communication that I wanted to pay attention to. As part of this process, I drew a sketch of how what I thought would be a good design for the plant monitor. While sketching ideas for the design of the plat health monitor, I thought of creating a mechanism that would allow the plant health monitor to pour water on the plant, if it found that the plant needed it. However, the idea was scrapped, after finding it to not be as efficient as it sounded.  Alongside eliminating this idea, the servo motors were discarded (would have been used to help pour the water). In addition to this problem, I ran into trouble while trying to figure out how to use the LCD display, and how to get it to work. Therefore, I decided to tackle this problem by continuing to the second step of the plan, to write down specifically what I wanted each component to do as part of the prototype. This helped make clearer what I would need to understand and what I needed to accomplish with each component. By writing things out, I was then able to go and speak with my ME 2900 professor as to how the water level sensor worked. To my surprise, my professor hadn’t had the chance to use it before, and so we both searched on how exactly the sensor measured water; My GTA for the class also helped in this. After searching for some information, we came to a hypothesis as to how the water sensor measured the levels of water. We had the hypothesis that it measured the water levels by either if the sensor was placed vertically into the water (like dipping a stick into a glass of water), it would measure the waters level in terms of the height it reached. The second hypothesis was that it measured the water level, by analyzing how much of its surface the water covered. In order to prove either of these hypotheses, I bought a small plant and began the testing face of my prototype. I tested the water level sensor, as well as the other components, to see how each of them actually worked for simple tasks. To test the hypothesis we had come up with for the water sensor, I saw if when the water sensor was placed in a water glass it would measure a large number, and that number was due to the height of the water or the amount of water that was on the sensor’s surface. In order to better test the theory, I started placing droplets of water on the sensor, and analyzed the values it read, from the serial monitor. This led to testing the sensor in the plants’ soil (at the right moisture), after seeing that it measured how much water was in contact with it, instead of the water’s height. Like this, I was able to understand how the water level sensor worked. In just the same way, I started searching examples of how to make the LCD display work and display simple text. I then started trying different things with the LCD display, and even learned how to make text scroll on the display. The scrolling effect was however not used in the end, because it was not efficient for the purpose that the display was needed for. By using the scrolling effect on the text, the code for it had to be included in the “void loop()” (this is a function in the Arduino code that allows an action that is wanted to be repeated until it is canceled), and that affected the while or for loops (while and for loops do the same as the “void loop()”, however they do the same until a specific condition has been met) that were to be created in the Arduino code. Initially, four pushbuttons were meant to be used in order to control the power of the prototype (ON/OFF), or which information would be displayed in the LCD Display. However, they were not used due to the lack of space to connect them in the Arduino board, and it was also found that what the prototype needed to do didn’t really have a need for more than one button. Finally, the method to develop the code, was done by individually coding each component with what they were meant to do and integrating them together one by one. I started by integrating the LCD display with the welcome message, then the water sensor was integrated, then the RGB LED, and finally the photoresistor. While coding, I learned that it is best to try and organize the code that I have a harder time working with, and in that way,  it is easier to find where I made mistakes. The code was, therefore, divided into three sections that were based on the notices of sound, light and text that would be sent to the user of the device. It was arranged in the following way: 1. “Healthy Plant”, 2. “Water Level Low”, 3. “Water Level High”. The sections were divided and controlled testing their outputted functionality depending on if while loops or for loops were used. A function was also to be used in order to make easier the repeated use of melodies that were to be outputted from the piezo buzzer throughout different parts of the code. In this way, the development of the prototype was tackled, through testing, evaluating, and improving.


As a result, the “Plant Health Monitor” was obtained. The monitor works with the environment readings of two main sensors: the water level sensor and the photoresistor (light sensor). The water sensor is placed into the soil of the plant that is to be monitored, while the photoresistor is on the breadboard that contains the LCD display, the piezo buzzer, the RGB LED, and the two potentiometers (they control the LCD’s brightness and the piezo buzzers’ volume). The bread board is then all wired to an Arduino board, and when the Arduino board is connected to a power source (ex. Laptop), the monitor turns on. Once it turns on, the LCD display will show I welcome message, and once done will continuously display a message that reads, “Monitoring…”. This continues message will continue as long as both sensors read that the plant is “healthy”. Meaning that they sense the right range of water (set in the code), and the right amount of light (also set in the code). If while in this state, the user wants to see the water level, and light level of the plant, they just have to press the pushbutton on the breadboard. The LCD will then display a message for the state of the plant, the water level, and the light level. The RGB LED will also turn on the appropriate color for each information of the sensor that is displayed, and the piezo buzzer will play the appropriate melody. Then it will return to the continues message state. If however, the sensors detect that the water level is within a certain range (very small numbers OR very big numbers), the continues message loop will stop, and notify the user with the appropriate message, light color, and melody. The message will depend on whether the sensor read a high-water value or a very low one. The push button does not need to be pressed for this, since these last two states are considered “emergencies” for the plant.

The way the LED color works, is that when the monitor will display a “warning” message, the LED will light RED. However, if it is a “healthy” message, the LED will light GREEN. The melody that is played by the piezo buzzer works in the same way. If the message is a “warning”, the “warning” melody will play. If the “healthy message will be displayed, a “happy” melody will play.

This was all done in the code by dividing the function of the code into the following sections: 1. “Healthy Plant”, which would notify the user with the 1st melody, text, and green color light. This section was designed to not be outputted unless the user pressed the button since there was no real need to be notifying the user all of the time that the plant was healthy. 2. “Water Level Low”, which consisted of the plant monitor being in a constant state of “monitoring”. This would only be outputted if certain

number ranges were read by the sensors (very low numbers). If outputted a 2nd melody would be played, as well as text and red light. 3. “Water Level High”, which consisted of the same method as “2.”, but the number range for this one to be triggered was much higher (large numbers range). The number ranges for the sensors were determined in the following matter. The water level ranges and the light reading ranges were all decided by basic soil analysis, and basic light exposure analysis. I tested with my finger, the soil of the plant which I have when it was at an average water state that seemed to be just right for the plant (wasn’t to dry or to wet). The light was checked by observation and determining what was seen as too much light for the plant, and what was too little light. The ranges were changed with a map () function to values within the range 0-255, in order to display to the user a more understandable number. This is how the ranges work for the water level sensor: between 32 – 290 (read from the sensor) is healthy. For the light sensor, the healthy range is if the value is greater than 750 (the plant has enough and could have more light).


After everything was finished for the “Plant Health Monitor”, I realized that I had learned so much. In the beginning, accomplishing this seemed very hard. I wasn’t sure of how I would be able to build or code some of the things I wanted the monitor to do. But this project demonstrated and let me learn something very important that I will never forget, that is: “Even though I didn’t know a lot of things about how to build my prototype, through research, asking for help from people that have more experience than me and testing the factors I didn’t know about, I gained so much knowledge that it made the whole experience amazing and inspiring”. I am also glad that I got to share some knowledge with me professor from ME 2900, since both of us were unaware of how the water sensor level worked. At the end of my prototype, I got back to him and explained to him what I discovered about how the water sensor worked.


I also found some very interesting things while developing the “Plant Health Monitor”, one thing I found very interesting is, that the notification mechanism I was making, turned out to be more effective than I thought it would be. The warning noise causes the user to want to walk to the monitor to see what’s wrong. The water sensor also works in the way that it should, alongside the photoresistor, the notification mechanisms. Just at the right times, the monitor notifies when there is a problem with the information that is being read. Meaning that the delay time for the mechanism is very effective. This mechanism is the aspect of the prototype that I’m most proud of, which in a way involves the code used to create it. It has just the right timing of outputting the sound, text and LED color, in order to notify the user. The code was the biggest difficulty that I had during the prototype. It was the main difficulty, because I wasn’t sure of how to control certain components with the code, or how to get certain components to do a specific action at a certain time or when a certain condition was met. It was also difficult because I don’t have very much experience with coding languages. However, I resolved this problem by researching about the components, and finding basic examples in which the components were used, in order to begin to work with them. I also got tips and advice from the professor and our TA’s from the lab. With both factors, the last thing that helped resolve this problem was experimenting with the components and tackling them one by one. Because of this, I gained a lot of coding experience and how to better approach the same.

Even though I am very happy with how the prototype turned out, there are some things that I would have changed, or would like to improve on. One of these factors is, that the light sensor warning doesn’t work independently from the water sensor warning. What I mean by this is, that the light sensor check is triggered when either the pushbutton is pressed, or the water level is detected to be low or high. If neither one of these happens, the user will not be notified of whether the plant has light or not. A second thing that I would have liked to work on, was implementing a temperature sensor, which would be very useful if the plant could only be in certain temperatures. Another aspect that I would have liked to add to the prototype, was a small watering system, that would be activated if a long time passed after the water level warning was played, and the water levels hadn’t changed (the user hadn’t come to check). Lastly, a good addition to the plant monitor, would have been to create a waterproof case, that could neatly organize all of the components and make the prototype easier to carry. This would also allow the possible addition of a portable battery, allowing the plant monitor to separate from an external power source. Even though there are many things that could be improved and added, the “Plant Health Monitor” prototype is a very good place to start.

All of this project confirmed one very important thing to me professionally, and that is that I extremely enjoy the major I am in, Mechanical Engineering. This project made me even more inspired to follow my dreams of working with space and even being an inventor alongside. It also let me know that even though things I want to accomplish might be very hard or I might not know how to them, through hard work, research, brainstorming and even asking for help, can help me learn what I need to accomplish anything.


A tree doesn’t start out big or beautiful. It takes time for it to grow, and sometimes it takes longer then what we expect. But if we nurture it and give it love and determination, it will grow to be amazing. Each of our goals work like a tree. They are made up of different but equally important aspects. Just like this, the scholars G.O.A.L.S. are also made up of different aspects that are all equally important to each other. Goals around the world are composed of smaller goals, that lead to the main one, following the same pattern, the scholars G.O.A.L.S. are made up of smaller goals that guide towards the bigger one. G.O.A.L.S. is made up of: Global Awareness, Original Inquiry, Academic Enrichment, Leadership Development, and Service Engagement. Out of these aspects, there are two that I believe are the most important. I believe this because from them, the rest of the G.O.A.L.S factors can come out of or they are greatly affected by them. These two factors are, Global Awareness and Service Engagement.

I’ve always seen service engagement as something very important. Ever since I was young, I always enjoyed helping everyone around me, in which ever way I could. I also remember that every time I helped, I learned something, and I’ve always kept what I learned each time. We would go and help a convent with their plants. To that same convent, my family and I would donate clothes or toys for them to give to poor children. During first to sixth grade, my school used to give food to a poor old lady that lived in a neighborhood close by to our school. We would sometimes make food for her, or we would buy her sandwiches from a Subway that was close by. She would always show us a smile when we did that. Little by little, through these acts of kindness, we learned her story. One time I also got to go and clean the beach with my mom, for a program we joined. Throughout high school, I kept doing community work for my school. Some weekends we would go to the school, and helped clean, or we would plant small tress (etc.). At one moment, I began tutoring a little deaf girl. I helped a main teacher (in charge of the tutoring) with what the little girl had for homework. I would play with her, make her laugh, until eventually I got her trust, and understanding her was easier. Now at OSU, I get to show a STEM experiment, to children from k12, that may not have every opportunity that we’ve had. Like that, we nurtured their future. Each time I helped to do any of those things, I would learn a new story that the person I helped told me, or that I simply gained by observing. All of this encompasses Service engagement, these are what make Service engagement a means to understanding people in the world better, empathy. This is an extremely important tool for solving the world’s problems.

Global awareness is everywhere we look. It can be seen in TV, events for different societies in groups, etc. My global awareness grew when I helped the convent, because I got to talk to people that don’t live like everyone else; I gained a new perspective. When I cleaned the beach one time, I learned that trash is beginning to be dumped more around the world, and it is urgent that we try our best to not let it happen; I gained new knowledge of the worlds situation and what society is doing to try and help it. When I tutored the little deaf girl, I had to think differently for me to understand someone who goes through several different obstacles every day. Once, I got the opportunity to travel to Europe too. It was amazing to see everyone speaking in another language than the ones I was used too (they spoke Portuguese). After a while, I observed more and more that our differences, were what made us alike. That trip made me reflect a lot on our world, and how it was doing. I gained a new way of thinking because of all those experiences. Like this I will join both factors and say, that they both compliment each other, and inside them you can also find the other factors of G.O.A.L.S. Original inquiry can be seen when, because of wanting to help the worlds community regarding a problem, we join an outreach program or an investigation to try and resolve it. We might even meet people that offer us opportunities to do research with them. I’ve seen this in Current, a marine biology club, that I am a member of at OSU. We recently got the opportunity to participate in a fresh water jellyfish research that will take place next semester. Leadership can be seen developing by the more global awareness that we gain, and the more service engagement were part of. Because it will allow us more opinions and understanding to better talk with people or help resolve a bad problem with and open and just mind. The last one would be academic enrichment. With no doubt this will be gained, by facing the many challenges that mechanical engineering courses, internships and co-ops bring. But with them, my knowledge towards resolving a renewable energy research that I started in high school, may be finished and resolved.

In this way, Service engagement and Global awareness will help me throughout the years. They will allow me to understand the people around me better, and they will allow me to see the world differently, for me to be able to help it together with others. When I help a community, they will help me grow in empathy. They will help me grow in perspectives when I help a community that is unusual to me,when I do research or participate in an internship for NASA. If for example I travel abroad and study the culture of the place I travel to. As I gain these experiences, those two factors will give me the tools to, as an engineer, reach my goals of being able to help everyone in the best way possible. Not alone, but as my best self with others around me. That’s how a tree grows tall, not alone but with its surroundings and its experience.


A lot of opportunities come along when you least expected them. Sometimes, that’s how you find some of your best experiences. That is how I found an outreach opportunity where we got to spend time with kids through K12 in a community library. I found this outreach opportunity, while reading through a list of outreach activities that my STEM EE Scholars program offered us. As soon as I found it I emailed the person in charge. I knew at the second that she replied to me, that I had made a good decision in going to the activity.  I didn’t exactly know who were the other students who were going to be part of the library team. What I had known was that other three students were coming, and the organizer of the outreach, Betty Lise Anderson, was going to give us a ride to the library. Even though I was scared of not knowing anyone, I trusted my courage and passion for the activity, and went on forward deciding to give my best.

The first part of my experience started when I was searching for the place where we were, meeting to leave for the library. The meeting place was under “Dreese Laboratory”, the basements. It was the electronics lab. While I was walking to it, I passed by various labs located in the basement. My curiosity increased by a million, and it made me want to know what they did in the labs, and how I could be part of them if they did interest me. Every sign I passed, I read intensely, until I reached the electronics lab. There each of us met. We were three girls, the teacher (Betty), and a boy. On our way to the library, we got to know each other, and broke our comfort zone, in order to be able to be more comfortable with each other. We learned that each of us had very different goals. Like for example, some wanted to go into medical school,others wanted to be engineers, etc. But what we learned during the activity was that, because each of us had different goals, we each had different important qualities in order to be able to do the activity the most fun with the kids. When we got to the library, I finally noticed the name, “Parsons Branch Library”. There we went inside an activity room, and we prepared to show the kids that were in the library, a stem-based experiment. The experiment was an electrical engineering one. I had never seen it before, but I was super excited to show it to the kids. It was such a cool way to show how if current passes through a coil, it transforms it into a magnet. The experiment is known as the “Jumping Jack”. When each of us had learned how the experiments worked, and how to explain it to each kid, the k12 children in the library entered. However not everyone of them entered at first, and at that moment, one of us spontaneously showed us a new side and amazing qualities. He got so excited and started to cheer the kids into the room. His passion showed through his voice and face. He transmitted a new experience into us, and with those actions, showed us to not be scared of showing what we loved and our passion. Like that, each of us started encouraging the kids, and we began showing the k12 kids the experiment. By the end of the experiment, every single one of the kids, that ranged from second grade to even a college kid, was having fun with their “jumping jacks”!. If you looked at some of them, their eyes shined because of how happy they were, that they had made something so cool. Some of them went to show their friends playing in the computer, and then their friends came and did the experiment too. Others made another to give to their parents. They enjoyed it so much, that curiosity sparks arouse, and they started asking us different questions. The questions ranged from how it worked, what we were studying, or some of them even wanted to explain to us how they thought the experiment worked. At the end of the experiment, we allowed all of them to take the experiment they made home, and that made them even more happy. That feeling is what let me know, that this was going to be remembered as one of the best unforeseen experiences in my life.

I took so many things from this experience, that I can’t mention them all in just this artifact. But I can mention a few. I learned that in order to face a situation, we might not all be the same, but those differences are what allow us to all work together to accomplish a common goal. Second, even though we might have done a small activity or experiment with these kids, the way they were because of that is worth doing a million more like that. Because even the smallest acts of kindness can change the life of someone forever. Third, in order to teach the experiment to the kids (k12), we had to think in a different way in which the experiment would be easier to understand.  In other words, thinking in other perspectives (point of views) sometimes can make you learn something. Lastly, I learned that I don’t have to be scared of showing how passionate or happy I am about something, because sometimes that exact thing that I am scared of doing, can encourage others.

This unexpected experience led me to meet new friends and amazing children that inspire me. I even made a promise to a little girl. I promised her, and the other children, that we would be back next month. With that, a smile stayed on their faces, and we left back to campus, talking about new ideas we had in mind for them, and what the future hold for many other opportunities. So I say this to everyone, “When you least expect it, you will be met with an inspiring experience. And you will be so inspired, that you will want to fly”.

STEM EE Interview Project: An Undergraduate, an Upperclassman and a Professor

No matter how much we want to learn things by ourselves, it is never wrong to learn from the people around us. With this purpose, I searched for an upper classman, a graduate student and a professor from Ohio State University. Some of them I found through connections. However, a professor with whom I shared a common interest (research, studies, etc.), was hard to find. I found my professor after searching for several hours on Scopus, and was almost about to give up. As soon as I found him, I wrote to him. My professor responded in a heartbeat, and we met on the same day. As I had said, my upperclassman and graduate student weren’t so hard to find, since they were either connected to me by STEM EE Scholars or by a club. My upperclassman, was my STEM EE mentor, Megan Broughton. I met my Graduate student, through a marine biology club called “Current”. I choose each of them, because I found that I could gain very important and amazing things from each of them.

I chose the professor I interviewed, because his research subjects are immensely interesting to me, and I wanted to learn more about what he did and how his research worked. As I kept on reading about him, I also found out that he was the professor in charge of a lab, in the Mechanical Engineering building (my major’s department). What made me sure that I wanted to interview him was, that my heart felt fireworks when I read of what he did at the lab, and his research in it. Secondly, there is my STEM EE mentor. We had only met each other the day of the welcome event for Scholars, but then we met a second time, because I wanted to get to know her more. That second time, I felt that she had a lot in common with me, and I also learned of a lot of amazing things she had done at OSU. Lastly, there was my graduate student. I met her when I attended my second meeting for “Current”. She went to that meeting to talk to us, about her journey throughout her undergraduate and graduate degree. Everything she said, made me dream about my future, and what I wanted to accomplish. Because of that feeling, I decided to ask her for the third interview. Like that, I had the three people who I wanted to interview.

Megan Broughton is my STEM EE mentor. I could go on forever on what I learned from my mentor, but I will mention the most important. One of the things that Megan shared most with me, was about studying. She said three important tips: the first one is to find a place to concentrate, the second one is to not fear studying in groups, and the third one would be study breaks. Regarding these tips, she mentioned good places to study: 18th Avenue Library (open 24/7), the H&S House (very quiet and empty most of the time), and many others. Regarding group studies, she said that they are very helpful, since they can help review, teach or give new perspectives on a lot of material in hard classes. Megan gave a lot of emphasis on taking breaks. Breaks can help you think clearer about difficult material or problems, or even help you not miss home as much. As she said, “Our mind needs breaks”. For this, she said she takes time while walking from classes, to sit on a bench and relax (read, etc.). Additionally, she recommended clubs and research (honoraries, etc.). Both can help our futures and help us understand our goals clearer, but they are also good study breaks.

Heather Glon was the graduate student that I interviewed. She is a Marine Biologist, and is currently doing her PhD in a research with marine anemones here at OSU. She is really inspiring. She has done a lot of things, and maybe some mistakes a long the way. But the good thing is, that she knows that without those mistakes, she wouldn’t have learned what she did, and she wouldn’t be where she is right now. She didn’t know that she would be doing her PhD right now. When she entered college, she only wanted her bachelors. But as the years passed, her interests grew, as well as the many opportunities she looked for. She’s even travelled to many faraway places, because of her passion. Even though she is working immensely hard, she told me she wouldn’t change it for anything. Because everything she did, and worked for, helped her grow and get to where she is.

Before interviewing my professor, I read through two of his scholarly articles. The articles had to do with studying gases and plasmas (Supersonic Flows). The purpose of this studies is to understand the behaviors and conditions that vehicles at ultra-sonic speed in the atmosphere, can be faced with. This research helps save money, since they are done with simulations in wind tunnels (in a lab). The articles were difficult to comprehend. One of the main reasons for this is, that we don’t have a lot of experience in the fields that they are based on. Therefore, the vocabulary that is used, can be really challenging. This brings me to what I discussed and learned from my professor, Dr. Igor Adamovich. He was an amazing person, and inspired me to one day join his lab. But there were conditions and tips, which correlate with how scholarly articles are understood better. He said, that the more experience I gained in the topics and field that had to do with the lab, the more helpful it would be for when I applied to join the “Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics Laboratory” that he manages. The reason for this is, that with whatever situation I’d be faced with in the lab, or even while reading a scientific paper, I would have more ideas of how to face and resolve them. Because I would have faced similar things in my practice to gain knowledge. Even though it might take time to get the experience, in the end it would pay off.

I learned an immense number of things from this interview project. It helped me get to know amazing people better, or how I should face the difficulties that are in the future. It also opened roads to research I am passionate about, and helped me gain friends. This project gave me a clearer view of the very indefinite path that is ahead of me. However, it also gave me new tools that can help me walk through that indefinite path, even if I might fall sometimes. I learned that the world isn’t as perfect and easy to be in as it seems, but that’s why its special and that’s why we need to work hard for our goals.

Welcome to my Honors & Scholars e-Portfolio

Hello and welcome!! My name is Anna and this is my blog. It is still a work in progress, so it will always be changing or having new things. This blog is here for the purpose of helping, therefore you are welcome to read or look around. I hope this blog can be of help, and can be enjoyed.

Year in Review

[ “Year in Review”  is where you should reflect on the past year and show how you have evolved as a person and as a student.  You may want to focus on your growth in a particular area (as a leader, scholar, researcher, etc.) or you may want to talk about your overall experience over the past year.  For more information, go to: Delete these instructions and add your own post.]

Professional Interview with Dr. Ryan Harne


Dr. Ryan Harne is an assistant professor at The Ohio State University, in the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. In this department, Dr. Harne oversees leading the “Laboratory of Sound and Vibration Research” (also known as LSVR). He has always shown a great interest in this topic in research, therefore, his area of expertise in research fields lies within vibration, acoustics, mechanics, nonlinear dynamics, and smart materials. As he leads the LSVR, he mentors’ students, undergraduate as well as graduate, that are part of the lab team. He guides them during the process of starting their own research and prepares them to start independently on a research of their own.

There are two very significant things that Dr. Harne does, one is research related to the LSVR and the second is mentoring students. As our society is growing more and more in knowledge and size, as well as the world is getting older and older, a lot of new problems keep arising and or aspects that need to be better. Problems such as, increasing amounts of energy consumption and increasing negative effects that our society is causing on our world. Therefore, research in the LSVR or topics related to it can have great impacts. Research that the LSVR do, can help find better ways to harvest energy from vibrations that are found in our everyday life (creating an efficient clean and renewable energy source), or help us learn of the effects that acoustics, vibrations and the mechanics related to them have on our surroundings and ourselves. In other words, without research like this and investigations, we would not have a lot of the things that we see around us today. Such as efficient airplanes, strong homes, electricity, music, etc. This area will continue to grow. Since now a day a lot of energy advancements are being made, such as electric cars, magnetic railways for trains, etc. Even space travel is immensely growing, which will need a lot of research such as the one done in this area. Knowing the importance, the LSVR, I started the interview with Dr. Harne.

During my conversation with Dr. Harne, I learned and gained a lot, that truly made me think and appreciate many of the experiences that I have had and are still to come. In my own words, these are some of the things that stood out to me from our interview. At the beginning after he finished his undergraduate, he wasn’t sure of what he wanted to do, he knew what his interests were, and that he enjoyed research. It wasn’t until he defended his Ph.D. that he truly found what he wanted to do, be a professor, a mentor to student and lead a lab to help students grow. He knew he wanted to be a mentor to students after he got the chance to be a professor for a short time. Experience, he said, is extremely important. It’s completely ok to not know what you want to do since the beginning. However, follow your interests, and through experience, you will get to where you need to go. Internships or co-ops are important experiences that we should all do. He especially said that after he said that because he went on a co-op, he knew that he wanted to go into grad school. Because of the co-op, he found out that he wanted to do something else.

Experiencing includes, sometimes not knowing what to do, and this calls for guidance. Everyone needs guidance at first, and everyone after a while should be let go to be independent and experience what they have been guided towards. When he was a Research Fellow at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan University, he had a great mentor, so amazing, that he guided him leading a full lab there. That was the first time Dr. Harne was in charge of the whole show in a lab. Leading the LSVR is therefor his second time running a lab, and he was completely ready to do it. Since back in Michigan he had an amazing mentor, that gave him the opportunity of running a lab. He learned a lot during his time at Michigan University, especially because, he wasn’t alone (guided), but was left to manage it independently and was guided whenever he needed help.

These experiences lead him, to the LSVR. Where he continues to do research, but a great part of his time is taken by helping students. In his research lab, he is a mentor to all his students, he has guided them, but he has also paid attention to know when the right moment is, to not be there all the time for the student and let them be independent. He is very proud of them because the students in his lab have grown and flourished on their own and achieved great things; Once they knew what they were doing.

When he was talking about this, I remembered that for a long time now, I had been worried of not being ready to go out into the world after I graduated and be able to do the many things that I dreamed about. I had feared not knowing what the right thing to do when I got into my first job. But after hearing Dr. Harne say that after he graduated, he wasn’t sure of what exactly he wanted to, but he knew what he found pleasure in, and that he was also never alone (he had a mentor), I began to think that it’s ok for me to be a little scared. However, I should know that not everyone will know the right things to do since the very first time they take toward their dreams, however, every step they take since after the 1st will be better and better until they learn how to do things right; they experience life and it’s easy and hard moments.

Another very significant thing that stood out to me during our interview was when I asked Dr. Harne something that he came across his life, since after finishing undergrad studies up to today, and that was finding a balance between life and work. He wholeheartedly believes in a balance in life. However, he really believes that at first when we begin to embark on our professional journey, we should begin in-balanced. Therefore having a greater push to helps us go towards great things and our dreams. In that way, we can grow more. Otherwise, if we begin balanced, we might not get far and reach the huge potential that we can give. He confessed to me that, because sometimes he struggled with working too much because he enjoyed helping students and research, he was learning to find a better way to balance his health, life and work this year. Because even though sometimes it is good to be passionate and work a lot, there is also a point where we need to know when to stop and take a break for our own good. So that later we can come back and do better. I related to this because sometimes I work very determinedly in order to reach a goal because I want to reach my dreams. But because of that, I sometimes put my health at risk and have gotten sick. When I realized I should have made a better decision, I’m already sick or more physically tired than I would normally feel. However recently I’ve been doing my best to keep studying and doing things passionately, being in-balanced, but also knowing when I should be balanced for my health’s sake.

This interview started based on my curiosity and wanting to know more about why Dr. Harne chose to go along a path that led to research related to the LSVR and the LSVR itself.  I was also worried and scared about a lot of things that are still to come. Such as knowing what to do during my first step out of my undergrad studies, and during my first job, and how to reach my dream. But after talking with Dr. Harne, learning about the amazing things that he has achieved and gained through his experiences, I feel better knowing that it is ok to fear what is to come but to know this: We will never be alone. There will always be people next to us that will guide us, just like how others did for them. Sometimes we might not know what we should do, and other times we might know exactly what to do. But every step we take along the way, the people we meet, and the way we decided to approach everything that comes to us, is up to us. That is why I will do my best to live an unbalanced life at first while knowing the moments when I should bring balance in. For example if I know I have a paper to write or an exam to study for, I will organize my time to do them well and put all of my hard work into them, but whenever I start to feel overwhelmed by them, I will not continue to work on them, I will take a break and bring balance in for a moment. I will also work on not being headstrong in believing that I should not be asking for help when I don’t know how to do something. Because everyone at some point in their lives, did not know how to do a lot of things, however, because they were guided and asked for help, they learned. The world is driven by helping each other out, and my experiences. Like this, I will learn through experiences (such as internships during the summer), and ask for help when I need it, knowing that it is ok to fear what is to come. Because that is how I will grow.



College is like taking the first step on the moon. Because of that, I was scared. I didn’t know how to prepare myself, if I was ready to face what was ahead, or if I would be able to make friends. What I knew was, that I would try my best, whatever came my way. Like this, I attended the Ohio State Universities Morrill Scholars Early Arrival Scholars. Because of this program, everyone in it, including me, got to arrive a couple of days early to our dorms. During those few days that we arrived early at the university, we started a mission.

The main purpose of Morrill Scholars is, to promote diversity and help everyone understand it as well. In the program, we were around 70 (if not 80). We were divided into even smaller groups (around 10 students per group), which allowed for us to get to know each other better. Each group had two peer leaders that guided us throughout the whole program. Having the whole group for the program ready, we started doing different activities to get to know each other. Like maybe sharing our stories or opinions regarding current situations. We learned to respect each other, spend time with each other, even though we might have not known each other. We created trust, and alongside this, very important tools to help diversity and our society. We did exercises where we played games as groups. During these games we would either play something to get to trust and respect each other better, or games that involved team scenarios which we had to solve (to develop team work and understanding for each other). On our last day, we all went and did community service at a park near OSU. There we helped place mulch around trees. Some of us shoveled, others moved the cart wheels, and others filled the cartwheels with mulch. We did this from around 8:00 am to around noon. The amazing thing is, that time seemed to pass a lot faster, because we were all working together, and helping each other. After that, they took us to visit COSI, and we spent our last moments together, learning at COSI while having fun.

I gained so many things from this experience, that I can’t describe it in just a few words. What I can say is, that one of the things that I most loved from this experience was, that we all treated each other like family. Each day we would have breakfast together, we would go and walk or talk after our activities ended. Because to me this means, that we want to fight for the purpose that Morrill Scholars lives for, diversity and respect for each other in the world. After those days, I gained more courage to meet everyone that I could and fight for what was rightful in the world. This experience was immensely rich in everything that it gave us. It taught us to hold on to what makes us who we are, and use that to help the world.

Thanks to the Morrill Scholars Early Program, I wasn’t scared anymore. I was using my fear as a tool to go on towards my goals. Change is something scary, because we don’t know what will come from it. That is why, we must face it by being ourselves, and taking it step by step until the change is happening in our own way.

About Me


Anna C. Lebrón Rodríguez is a first year student, as a Mechanical Engineering major, at the Ohio State University. She was born in Puerto Rico (San Juan), and lived there for 17 years, until she decided to become a student at OSU. During her years at OSU, Anna wishes to become involved within the university, as well as outside of it. She wishes to do that, by assisting service programs, joining organizations like: the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), the OSU Makers Club, the Archery Club or even the Taekwondo Club. In addition, she has always been interested in making discoveries (no matter how small), and undesrtanding things better. Therefore she would be very interested in being part of a reasearch related to STEM, or another area that could benefit society. Because she has always found an immense happiness in helping others, Anna wants to be part of dual bachelors/ masters program. She hopes to pursue a masters in biomedical engineering. In the future, she wishes to be able to contribute different inventions and solutions to the many problems of the world. Whether it is cleaning the planet or helping a conflict within society. Another one of her other dreams, is to be able to join NASA and become an astronaut.

Anna has always cared a lot about her family and her friends, this has influenced her visions to protect the world and everything that exists because of it. She is very passionate about music, which made her want to take guitar lessons. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, reading, spending time with her pets, drawing surrealistic things, listening to a lot of music, and observing the world.

With this goals and visions in mind, Anna will go through her first year at OSU, learning how to get closer to reaching her dreams, and learning many things that only experience can bring her.