UAlbany Nanosciences professors are taking local high school seniors to the forefront of nanosciences in a novel internship program.
In UAlbany’s Analytical and Characterization lab, Albany High School senior Jismi Jose investigated gallium nitride-based nanostructures using the focused ion beam microscope. Vernel Mitchell, employing a scanning electron microscope (SEM) was imaging Yyttrium Barium Copper Oxygen superconductors. In a processing lab, Daljeet Kaur was at work building calibration curves to test new coatings for sensors that will determine potentially unhealthy concentrations of gas in unknown environments.
These students’ experiences, certainly unusual for high schoolers, were made possible through a partnership created two years ago engaging UAlbany’s School of Nanosciences and Nanoengineering and Albany High School’s Exploration in Engineering Program.
Each semester, three students spend six hours per week at UAlbany’s Institute for Materials (UAIM). Guided by faculty mentors the students undertake semiconductor research projects using state-of-the-art equipment. The students have the opportunity to experience today’s most relevant, high-tech research and to explore interests for future college study.
All of the students, though proficient in high school science and well acquainted with computers, were new to the level of instrumentation used at UAIM, as well as to its many applications. "Being inquisitive and energetic—that drive to learn—is the most important quality you can instill," said Assistant Professor of Nanosciences and Nanoengineering Michael Carpenter.
"The internships have been exciting," said Neil Dugan, Albany High School science teacher and director of the Exploration in Engineering Program. "The University faculty gives them tremendous guidance, and the facility itself is cutting edge. For me, this place was eye-opening."
The program puts emphasis on hands-on experience. "When I came here," said Daljeet Kaur, "I found a whole new field of technical sciences and it opened up a world of choices for me."
Said Professor of Nanosciences Jim Castracane, "The kids have fun, they see things that they didn’t know existed and they see things they didn’t know existed so close to home. They find that you don’t have to leave the area to be at the forefront of materials sciences and nanoengineering.