The REU difference
South Portland, Maine
Year and Major
Senior, Electrical Engineering
Highlights of your achievements, awards and past-times
I’m part of IEEE (engineering club), Eta Kappa Nu (electrical and computer engineering honor society), and Tau Beta Pi (engineering honor society), but most of my time is devoted to Kappa Kappa Psi, the coed National Honorary Band Service Fraternity. As treasurer of KKPsi, I am in charge of fundraising for the bands so we can purchase things like new instruments or other equipment. I’ve also been in the marching band, pep band, and concert band all four years of college. Music keeps me sane when my schoolwork is stressing me out. Also, last semester I played intramural frisbee with the Hippie Flicks and we won the championship!
I first fell in love with UMaine the summer after seventh grade. I came to a “Band Camp” (MSYM, Maine Summer Youth Music) for six years every summer and was introduced to the campus and faculty. UMaine just started to feel like home after that. It really is the perfect school for me. It’s a relatively inexpensive college (especially with all of the scholarships that are offered), has a beautiful campus, has really friendly and helpful faculty, and a well-established College of Engineering.
Why electrical engineering?
I’ve always loved to build things. I’m also a strong math and science student, so engineering was suggested to me as a major. I picked electrical partially because my dad is an electrical engineer and because of scholarship money I got from the department freshman year. But I’m really glad I picked it. Electrical engineers have a ton of job opportunities with all of the upcoming technology. Plus it’s really fun to design a circuit and get it to work!
Tell us about your REU last summer.
Last summer I worked for Dr. Rosemary Smith, an electrical engineering professor at UMaine. I worked on the microfabrication of pressure sensors that will hopefully be used to wirelessly detect eye pressure in order to diagnose glaucoma. The project is still in its early stages, but I had to opportunity to design and fabricate the sensors in the LASST clean room and do some testing at the end of the summer. REU is a really cool program because you get to work on a specific project with a professor all summer and learn what research is all about.
Tell us about the research you’re involved in.
I’ve sort of taken a break with research this semester as I finish up my undergraduate degree, but I have submitted some CAD designs of sensors to a company that will fabricate them. The designs are similar to the sensors I worked on during REU. I hope to get the chips back before the end of the summer for testing.
Have you participated in any other internships or co-ops related to your major?
The summer after freshman year, I interned at Fairchild Semiconductor in South Portland for the Device Engineering Department. I’ve also worked at Network Allies in Andover, Mass., for a summer and various vacations building, configuring and shipping servers. It’s important to participate in internship programs so you can figure out what jobs you enjoy doing and what career might be best for you before you graduate. The ECE department at UMaine does a great job connecting students with employers.
Have you worked closely with a mentor, professor or role model who has made your UMaine experience better?
I’ve worked closely with quite a few professors. However, Dr. Rosemary Smith is an amazing mentor to me. She is the only women professor in the ECE department and is an inspiration to all girls who are pursuing degrees in male-dominant fields. I’ve spent a lot of time in her office talking about everything from current projects and homework to what it’s like at a job interview or how to fit in with the “guys.” Since the first “female in engineering” luncheon my freshman year, she’s made me feel more comfortable at UMaine.
How has your experience at UMaine changed or shaped you and the way you see the world?
UMaine has definitely broadened the way I see the world. Growing up in Maine, I’ve been pretty sheltered from different cultures and experiences. I’ve taken a wide variety of classes here, including a philosophy course on religious studies, a course on world food science and a course on astronomy physics. These classes have taught me to keep an open mind and have given me the desire to learn more about our world. With the Internet and current technology, even people on a different continent can seem like our next-door neighbors.
You’ve been taking graduate classes and are headed into UMaine’s graduate program. What research do you hope to be involved in as an electrical engineering graduate student and what do you hope to do with your graduate degree?
I’m hoping to continue working on the pressure sensors that I worked on during REU. I’d like to try to get the wireless portion of the design working. A lot of current technology uses some sort of wireless component and I find wireless communication really interesting. After graduate school, I plan to apply for jobs in the semiconductor industry. I hope to work in chip design and eventually move up to a management position.
What is the most interesting, engaging or helpful class you’ve taken at UMaine?
The most interesting class I took at UMaine was a rock climbing course offered by the KPE department. We learned the proper way to rock climb and how to put on and use equipment in the Maine Bound gym. I’ve only been rock climbing outside once, but I plan do go a lot this summer.
Favorite place on campus?
Probably 1944 Hall, the music building. I love that all the buildings at UMaine are unique and the more time you spend in one, the more you learn about it. I’ve spent a lot of time in ’44 Hall for band practice and have learned most of the secret passageways that connect it to the neighboring buildings. 1944 Hall has a lot of cool hallways that not many people know about.
Most memorable UMaine moment?
I don’t know if it counts as a moment, but my most memorable UMaine experience has been Maine Day, which happens the last Wednesday of April every year. Students don’t have classes and there are service projects all over campus. Every year for Maine Day, the other brothers of Kappa Kappa Psi and I wake up at 5 a.m. to go to Dysart’s for breakfast with the music faculty. Then we participate in Maine Day Band, which is basically a bunch of band kids running around campus and playing the school song outside dorm windows to wake everyone up. After that, we spend the morning cleaning the music building and getting everything ready for marching band in the fall, and then we play Oozeball (volleyball in the mud) and go to the barbecue by the river. It’s basically the best day ever!
Class that nearly did you in?
Definitely Digital Signal Processing. It was very difficult material and the labs took forever, but at least my professor was helpful. Special thanks to Aaron McCollough and Steven Pesut for helping me make it through the class!
Advice for incoming students?
Time management is really important. College is an opportunity to try out a bunch of new things and meet new people, but if you don’t plan out your schedule, you’ll find yourself spending too much time playing and not enough time studying. I’ve learned to crank through all my tough homework and labs during the week so I can spend the weekends relaxing with friends. Don’t put off your work until the Sunday before it’s due or you’ll never get it done!
Image Description: Jamie Reinhold