STEP Reflection

Nick Donohue

Undergraduate Research

  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project:

This summer I had the opportunity to be employed by a faction of a research lab on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The research lab consisted of several different experiments pertaining to the biomechanics and biodynamics of humans in flight and their reactions to different types of harnesses and seat materials. I am not able to go into great detail about the research due to privacy issues, but I will give a general overview.


  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

Having a real research experience opened my eyes to the possibilities of the world. I always wanted to be an engineer because my dad was an engineer before me, and his dad before him, but now that I was able to receive a real experience in the world of engineering my beliefs in my career path have been reaffirmed. I now believe that a job in engineering can be both exciting and liberating. The joy you feel when you design your own project and work on it until it is completed cannot be matched.

I believe that I became a better person through this experience. The research allowed me to grow and realize what kind of career I wanted, and the experiences with the people allowed me to develop relationships that might be helpful in the future. This realization allowed me to better understand myself and the dynamics that my relationships had and how they affect my future.


  1. What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?

I had several important experiences in my research that allowed me to change and grow as a person. The opportunity had everything from doing grunt work by backing up hard drives to designing my own experiment and carrying it through to completion. The first of these taught me taught me humility, while the second one taught me how rewarding these experiences can be.

The first experience that I had at my research position was one of the most boring and frustrating things I have done. For a week straight I was to go around the office and to update everyone’s computers and laptops and backup their hard drives. This was not an exciting task, but it was an important one. It taught me the value of the work that nobody wants to do, and also taught my employers that I could be trusted to handle whatever they gave me. It was not inspiring work, but it was valuable work and I believe that both are very important.

The second experience I discussed was a lot more in depth and a lot more rewarding. I was allowed to design a piece for one of the parts we needed, and was allowed to machine this piece and test it for its ability. This was the kind of work I had hoped that I would be doing, and it was extremely exciting and rewarding to do so. This helped me grow as a person and realize that this was truly the career path that I wanted to pursue, and these types of experiences I believe are what drives people to finish school and be an important part of the work force.


  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?

This research experience taught me the value of hard work and determination. I believe that through perseverance, a great many things can be achieved. Through my personal involvements this summer I gained knowledge, experience in the work force, familiarity with research, and valuable relationships that can be helpful in the future.

This experience made me realize the networking that these opportunities can give you and the familiarity with the topics that may help you in the future. They allow you to become more acquainted with some of the materials and the kind of people that you will be working with. The relationships that you can foster during these types of experiences will both make your experience more enjoyable, and help you in your future endeavors.