SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — Students at Wittenberg University are encouraged to take advantage of out-of-classroom opportunities that intensify their educational experiences. Following a summer internship at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Washington D.C., Alex Brown, class of 2007 from Marietta, Ohio, understands the benefits of such an opportunity.
At the conclusion of Brown’s internship, he was invited to lecture on his research and experience at a conference in San Francisco, Calif. NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency that promotes “innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life,” according to its Web site (www.nist.gov).
“In my internship I examined samples of combinatory dielectric thin films on silicon substrates using spectroscopic ellipsometry,” said Brown, a physics major. “I investigated combinatory metals at the metal-oxide interface for complimentary metal-oxide semiconductor devices using Internal Photoemission measurement techniques.”
Brown learned about the internship from Joe York, Wittenberg class of 2005, who completed an internship with NIST during his undergraduate study. York shared his experience with Brown and sent him literature from the Society of Physics students (SPS).
Brown resided at George Washington University in the Foggy Bottom district of Washington, D.C. He was a guest at the Coalition for National Science Funding exhibition and reception on Capitol Hill, where research groups from around the country exhibited the progress of their projects for senators and other politicians to try to ensure their continued funding.
Gary White, director of the Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma , the National Physics Honor Society, asked Brown to make a presentation on his research and internship experience with the NIST at the American Vacuum Society (AVS) conference.
“At the conference in California, I interviewed the chair of AVS,” Brown said. “I asked him some questions about his research, the status of the field of physics and how to make the public more aware of the status of science research today.
"After I had interviewed him, he interviewed me about what people in the field can do to help get more college students interested in physics, because it is his opinion that college is an invaluable stage at which to interest people in physics.”
AVS is a society committed to providing a bridge of communication between academia, government laboratories and industry for the purpose of sharing research and development. The four-day AVS San Francisco conference began Oct. 13, and was titled, “The AVS National Short Course Program.” It provided courses and training for technicians, scientists and engineers on AVS and information on areas concerning thin films and coating — the same area of expertise that Brown practiced in his internship.
“Wittenberg’s coursework is very academically rigorous, and I think that if a person were to spend four years in that intense study of his or her major without seeing the application of the coursework, it could lead to burnout,” Brown said. “Doing an internship, especially in the sciences, allows students to see a glimpse of what life after graduation may be like, and it inspires students to keep putting in the hard work necessary to excel here.”
By: Dani Nicholson ‘07