1. For my STEP project, I worked as undergraduate researcher for the Hyperspectral Imagery Department at Riverside Research. I researcher under Dr. Nicholas Scott who works as an Oceanographer and Spectral Scientist for Riverside. The title of my project was “Vector quantization of Texture for Uncertainty Reduction in Hyperspectral Imagery.” The project dealt with trying to identify nefarious materials or targets in unknown areas using a combination of principal component analysis and independent component analysis.
2. Initially, I did not see myself as someone who would enjoy working as a researcher; however, I found that I really enjoyed my experience at Riverside Research. I was able to break down image chips and analyze them in different ways to come up with the best solution. I found that a lot of the traits that I learned in engineering applied to my research experience. I enjoyed collaborating with other researchers on the same project and bouncing our thoughts off of each other until we came to a common conclusion. After being able to experience this research experience, I can now myself as entertaining the idea of possibly working as a researcher in the future.
3. I met a lot of great people at Riverside Research that were very welcoming and helpful when it came to my research. My advisors knew that this was my first time researching in a formal setting and they were very accommodating to me which made the transition to full time research much easier.
On several different occurrences, I asked for help and advice on how I should analyze a given image chip or how to properly write a portion of code to operate in a specific way. Dr. Scott in particular, was very helpful when it came to me asking for help. I was not the first intern he had trained in his research department before so he was very understanding that I would not be perfect at the beginning.
My STEP project involved countless, yet still precise calculations that actually have real world applications. This was different for me because in class, all I had done up to this point in my education was work problems based on real world applications but in reality are just practice problems for life. The fact that I was able to work on a project that I know will continue on to be implemented into military tactics is so fascinating to me. This experience taught me a lot both about engineering and research but both about myself and want I hope to gain in my life after college.
4. This was significant in my life because it helped me gain real world experience in research and allow me to decide whether that is something I could see myself doing in the future. By working at Riverside Research this summer, I was also able to gain some technical skills that will translate well into my engineering career, whether it be research, manufacturing or development. This experience also transformed my vision of performing research. Initially, I had the perception that researchers worked in a lab coat all day and performed countless experiments hoping to get useful results, but this experience was different. I was teamed up with an employee who tailored my project to my specific needs and interests. In this way, research was very enjoyable and allowed me to recognize that I could see myself doing something similar after college. I am very thankful to STEP because without the generous grant, this opportunity would not have been realistic.