STEP Reflection Prompts

Type of Project: Undergraduate Research
1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.
As we’re all aware, breather cleaner air and drinking clean water are categorized as
undeniable human rights. The aim of Dr. Hendrik Verweij’s is to produce a cheap and energy
efficient inorganic membranes to accomplish such a task. The principal advantage of these
membranes is that they operate isothermally and can approach reversible entropy limits.
My job was to aid in the fabrication and testing of these membranes as well as other
geometries such as a tube, opposed to a disc.
2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world
changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?
During my project, I truly understood the notion of engineering, finding a problem and
building or solving a solution. During coursework it is easy to put your head down and just
do what is required; however, during my time working on this project I was finally able to
understand why. When I was younger I always viewed people that wanted to improve
something important as somehow more than human. As one would expect, it was people
just like myself working towards a better solution. I also learned that graduate school is not
a path I would like to pursue. I enjoyed the interpersonal relationships that were built;
however, I’d much prefer a larger scale.
3. 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?
When I first began my time at the lab, I worked with a graduate student named Yi. I was
nervous that someone much more experienced than me would view me as more of a pawn
than a partner. However, after working with him all summer, it turns out we have very
similar interests. I was even able to give him insight towards solutions where I had more
experience than him.
During the beginning of my project, our group was primarily working with flat, disc-shaped
membranes and using a furnace and other equipment to match. One day, towards the end
of my project, our research partner downtown sent us a membrane in the form of a
cylindrical tube. We had no way to test this membrane and had to build our own furnace. It
started off with the frame and then we drilled in holes for water-cooling. The point I’m
trying to make is that building this tube furnace from the ground up helped reiterate the
why as mentioned in #2. It was my first time having a problem and literally building a
solution with my own hands instead of doing theoretical work on a computer.
4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?
Completing this project gives me motivation to complete my degree. I physically
experienced an end goal. However, I do not really plan on attending graduate school, but
the notion is still the same. I feel more comfortable entering the field knowing that
everyone started off clueless like myself and was seamlessly integrated. I was also able to
get experience communicating and reporting information to superiors, which is
undoubtedly useful for the future.

Reflection Prompts

STEP Reflection Prompts
As you may recall from your STEP signature project proposal, your STEP signature project was designed to
foster transformational learning—that is, learning that challenged you personally and helped you gain
broader and deeper understandings of yourself, others, and the world around you. Please address the
following prompts to help you reflect on your experiences completing your STEP signature project; please
give careful and critical thought to your responses.
Name: Victor Monaco
Type of Project: Undergraduate Research
1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.
This project is aimed to design and fabricate dual-phase nano-structured dense ceramic
membrane. These membranes will be used for cost-efficient oxygen separation.
2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world
changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?
During my project, I truly understood the notion of engineering, finding a problem and
building or solving a solution. During coursework it is easy to put your head down and just
do what is required; however, during my time working on this project I was finally able to
understand why. When I was younger I always viewed people that wanted to improve
something important as somehow more than human. As one would expect, it was people
just like myself working towards a better solution.
3. 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?
When I first began my time at the lab, I worked with a graduate student named Yi. I was
nervous that someone much more experienced than me would view me as more of a
pawn than a partner. However, after working with him all summer, it turns out we have
very similar interests. I was even able to give him insight towards solutions where I had
more experience than him.
During the beginning of my project, our group was primarily working with flat, disc-shaped
membranes and using a furnace and other equipment to match. One day, towards the
end of my project, our research partner downtown sent us a membrane in the form of a
cylindrical tube. We had no way to test this membrane and had to build our own furnace.
It started off with the frame and then we drilled in holes for water-cooling. The point I’m
trying to make is that building this tube furnace from the ground up helped reiterate the
why as mentioned in #2. It was my first time having a problem and literally building a
solution with my own hands instead of doing theoretical work on a computer.
4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?
Completing this project gives me motivation to complete my degree. I physically
experienced an end goal. However, I do not really plan on attending graduate school, but
the notion is still the same. I feel more comfortable entering the field knowing that
everyone started off clueless like myself and was seamlessly integrated. I was also able to
get experience communicating and reporting information to superiors, which is
undoubtedly useful for the future.