Postcards from the summer

We asked Brown Engineers to tell us about their 2022 summer internships and research projects. These summer positions play a crucial role in shaping one’s career, not only helping a student gain real exposure to working environments, but also developing the necessary skills required to stand out. These valuable opportunities can help shape or re-shape career aspirations, illustrate real-life applications of in-class learning, and enhance professional networking opportunities.

Here are a few of the Q&As we got back from the Class of '23 and '24:

Lukas Scheidle


My previous exposure to environmental remediation involved analyzing samples in the lab to find contaminant levels and providing data-driven recommendations. When I entered this internship opportunity, I was hoping to learn and perform the sample collection process so I could understand environmental field work from start to finish. I was also looking forward to the prospect of using PCSWMM (Personal Computer Storm Water Management Model) to model stormwater infrastructure. More broadly, I was curious to see how large consulting projects operated and what client interactions looked like. 

I was fortunate to engage in various tasks with the Butte office, including field work, modeling using PCSWMM, and coding in R to improve the efficiency and accuracy of data organization tasks. I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to pinpoint topics or projects that interest me and dive headfirst into them. I primarily worked on the Butte Priority Soils Unit project, where the main task was to collect stormwater and prepare samples to ship to an analytical laboratory. I also had the chance to perform meaningful design work by modeling a stormwater drainage system. Approximately once a week, I worked on the Community Souls Operable Unit project in Anaconda, Montana, where I collected soil staples at residential and commercial properties to test for the presence of arsenic and lead. Working on this project was rewarding because it provided the opportunity to interact with the public.

Through this opportunity, I found that there are many hard-working people in this field and that the result of our work is spectacular. For example, looking at the design plans for the PSOU project that will be executed in the next few years demonstrates the impact that this work has on physical infrastructure and communities. This becomes especially clear when I compare photos of what Butte used to look like with the inviting, green, and clean natural spaces depicted in the design documentation for the project's next stages. Due to this tangible benefit to surrounding communities, I feel that future work in this field would be rewarding.

The people! Everyone who I interacted with over the course of the experience was welcoming, helpful, and enjoyable to work with. Whether at work or outside of work, my coworkers always made me feel valued and important, which enabled me to learn and contribute the best I could.



With this opportunity, I was working to identify where I fit in within the healthcare sector. I worked to determine whether I wanted to pursue a masters of Prosthetics and Orthotics or enter medical school. Only through this opportunity do I feel confident applying to medical school.


I was mentored by prosthetists and orthotists who taught me extensively hands-on. I learned valuable skills in both fabrication and patient based care. I was mainly tasked with fabricating orthotics including foot orthotics and TLSO (Thoracic Lumbar Spine Orthosis) for patients.


Yes, previously I believed that I wanted to pursue a masters of prosthetics and orthotics but now I am confident that I want to go to medical school.


I really enjoyed the patient care aspect of the mentorship. I got to spend time in the walking room with a number of pediatric prosthetics patients who within moments of receiving their new limb were running around the "walking" room, giggling, elated.



Lauren Kramer

This summer I worked on a research project doing a life cycle analysis of plastics in sports footwear. Being an athlete here at Brown, I know how important it is to have the right equipment, and it is frustrating when it wears out or does not live up to the expectation. I was drawn to working on this project because I wanted to get a better understanding of the environmental impact of sports equipment over its lifetime. Through this experience I hoped to expand my engineering skills both in terms of  new technology and laboratory techniques as well as concepts from my coursework. 


I was a part of the Department of Energy's SULI (science laboratory undergraduate internship) program this summer. The internship program places students at national labs across the country to further Department of Energy initiatives. The project team consisted mainly of me and my mentor, Dr. Sarang Supekar with additional team members from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the other national labs. At the most basic level, I worked on creating a model of four different shoes to analyze with life cycle analysis. This means performing each of the four main steps of life cycle analysis: goal and scope definition, life cycle inventory, impact assessment, and analysis on each of the shoes. I defined the goal and scope of the project along with my mentor. Then I researched each shoe to determine the materials for each component. Next I came up with the manufacturing flowsheets to assess the manufacturing processes for each component. I used this information to perform the life cycle inventory using OpenLCA software with the Ecoinvent database. The impact assessment focused on primarily the global warming potential and fossil fuel depletion impact categories for each shoe model, since these are metrics that most consumers are familiar with. The analysis is continuing beyond my position at the lab and will be covered in an upcoming paper based on the research. 


This experience allowed me to apply concepts from my mechanical engineering coursework to a project with environmental applications. I drew upon knowledge from my prior coursework including mechanics of solids/structures and thermodynamics, but applied it in new ways. I've been interested in how to apply mechanical engineering to solve environmental problems, and this experience gave me a closer look on one method of going about that. 


Yes it did! Prior to working at Argonne this summer, I did not know exactly how I planned to use my degree in the future. Working in the national lab, I was really drawn to the collaborative and team-based environment which seeks to better our world through scientific research. At Argonne, I didn't feel like I was limited because I was "just an intern." I was able to collaborate with grad students, post-docs, and full time researchers across the national lab system. Through this experience, I realized I am interested in continuing my education to pursue Ph.D. study. I gained experience conducting research, doing many presentations, writing research reports, and writing a paper to be published. Each of these experiences made me more interested in continuing my studies and research. 


My favorite part of my experience was presenting my research! I was lucky enough to present my research to many different teams. Notably, I made a poster presentation for a National Lab wide open house style event. Additionally, I participated in the ORISE Ignite-off competition where I created a five minute presentation on 20 slides which automatically advanced every 15 seconds (the traditional Ignite competition format). I won the Argonne National Laboratory round of this contest and advanced to the national competition against the other national labs. I really enjoyed what I was learning, so I found it fun to share with others!



With this experience, I hoped to gain a better understanding of the real world problems an engineer faces as well as different career paths available. 


My experience at Samsung Austin Semiconductor gave me a true insight into the inner workings of an engineer at a manufacturing plant. Learning about the production and fabrication of wafers helped me utilize skills I learned in the classroom, especially materials science, as well as allow me to keep an open mind for new information. 


I had a very hands-on project in which I built a testing device. I felt this project truly encompassed a wide variety of engineering concepts in electronics, mechanics, and fluids. In addition, I was able to completely design the device from scratch and see it through to a completed product.


I wouldn’t say it reshaped any of my plans, but instead invigorated my love of problem solving.


My favorite part of the whole experience was the culture. Austin is a beautiful city with plenty of opportunity for exploration. Moreover, the people at SAS were always available to help out no matter the issue and really made me feel welcome in a city so far away from home. 


Francesca Vecchio

I was hoping to provide help through my research and engineering experiences to a summer project. I was also hoping to gain a valuable learning experience that could help me with my future research and coursework at Brown and beyond. 


This experience involved biomedical engineering research in the ophthalmology department. As a pre-med student studying biomedical engineering, I would like to incorporate biomedical engineering and research into my career as a physician in some capacity. This opportunity allowed me to become more acquainted with research and engineering in ways that I can hopefully apply in the future.


My project involved the instrumentation design and manufacture of a device to be used for retinal surgery and retinal surgical research. This involved learning about and practicing with Computer-Aided Design (CAD) through Fusion360, Arduino coding and circuitry, and machining. I spent time with my computer and spent time in the lab to complete my daily work and improve the manufacturing process for my project.


Apart from doing research, this experience gave me the opportunity to shadow physicians at the Mayo Clinic. These opportunities made me more passionate about medicine and confirmed my desire to pursue a career in medicine.


Between having the opportunity to talk to physicians about their experience at Mayo and talking to other students in the SURF program, my favorite part of my experience was meeting a range of different people over the summer.