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Hastily Written Biography

posted 08.04.2006

In 1998, I graduated with a BFA in Communication Design (graphic design) from Virginia Commonwealth University, but wasn’t convinced that I wanted to do it for a profession for the rest of my life. I really enjoyed building rockets and mechanical things, so I figured engineering was the way to go. The last semester of working toward my BFA, I took some preliminary math courses, and applied to the engineering school at VCU. I got in on the condition I could handle the math. I wasn’t sure I could, but I figured ‘what the heck, I’ll try’.

Renewable energy is awesome.

There is something about getting a previous degree that really helps getting another; less stupid mistakes. As a sophomore, I really felt the need to get an internship somewhere, but wasn’t accepted anywhere because my credentials were so bad. So I asked to work in my professors’ lab, and was placed in a “help the grad student” position. The lab worked to build organic solar cells, and I learned a great deal about many things. I wrote software in LabView that automated the characterization procedure with a Kiethley 236, and learned how to do research and keep good records. I worked the rest of the year part time as a Junior, and ended up with three publications: “Characteristics of Water Soluble Polythiophene:TiO2 Composite and its Application in Photovoltaics” and “A Comparison of Fluorine Tin Oxide and Indium Tin Oxide as the Transparent Electrode for P3OT/TiO2 Solar Cells” and “Photovoltaic Devices from Self-doped Polymers”.

Robots are awesome.

That summer, I started working for Brake Align. They had a robotic gage that tested parts at the end of a manufacturing line, and needed software written in LabView to control it. After several months writing the software, I cut the time to test each part by seven seconds, graphed an animated 3D profile of the disk and provided several tools for tracking the quality of production over time. As a senior design project, my team added a linear actuator to speed up the gage even more, and did considerable non-contact sensor research and testing. Learned a lot there.

The 'controls' field is awesome.

At the end of that summer, a new professor came to VCU and hired me to work in his lab. After spending the rest of the summer building tables and setting up computers, we built an experimental setup to characterize the no-load hysteresis of a LIPCA piezoelectric device under voltage and charge-feedback control. I learned about controls, circuit-building, filtering, mathematical modeling and lots of Matlab. I was first author on the paper “Hysteresis Characterization Using Charge Feedback Control for Lipca Actuators” and presented it at the SPIE Smart Materials Conference in San Diego.

I graduated in May 2006 with Bachelor of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Physics with a minor in mathematics. Today, I am working toward a Masters in Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University in New York.

New York City is awesome.

When I graduate I plan on getting a job, but I haven’t pinned down where. Does anyone really know where they would be happiest?