Hope everyone’s summer is off to a fantastic start. After a wild start that spanned three time zones in 3 days, things are finally settling down for me as I have adjusted to life as a research intern at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, IL. Like several other VSA’s, my summer started off in Korea to cap off our awesome iPodia class. I’ll never forget the times we had there and all of the amazing new friends I made. It was truly an irreplaceable experience. Just interacting with and conversing with students from Israel, Germany, Korea, and China about topics ranging from political conflicts in each respective countries to sports is something that I may never experience again.
After a whirlwind of two weeks in Korea, I returned to LA for a night to pack up my things and prepare to fly home the next day. After flying home I drove up to Lemont, Illinois and moved onto Argonne National Laboratory‘s campus, eager to begin my internship.
At Argonne, I’m working under Dr. Richard Vilim and Dr. Park, both involved in research relating to nuclear energy modeling and simulation. My project consists of trying to adapt a robotics simulation software to try and simulate a safety and monitoring tool known as Under Sodium Viewing (USV). Basically, there exists a prominent type of nuclear reactor known as a liquid metal fast reactor, which uses liquid metal (almost always sodium), to serve as a coolant for the reactor. However, because the reactor core is submerged in an opaque liquid metal, it becomes impossible to monitor what is going on inside. In comes Under Sodium Viewing, which utilizes ultrasonic scanning to monitor the system through the liquid metal and search for safety concerns such as cracks in the core casing and what not. The idea for USV has been around for roughly 30 years; however, it has recently resurfaced as technology has become available to implement this concept and nuclear reactor safety becomes an even more important issue.
What I love about Argonne is the environment and just love of learning for the sake of learning. When given my project, my supervisor literally said, “I have no idea if this is possible, but I want you to see if it is.” So. Cool. Each week offers a multitude of interesting seminars for us to attend that extend beyond just the Nuclear Engineering division. Argonne is basically a playground for scientists and people interesting in making new discoveries in their field of work.
Besides just my internship, though, I’ve been busy with several other things. With quite possibly the busiest and most important semester of college quickly approaching, I’ve begun my search and preparation for graduate engineering programs. I’ll have the GRE coming up soon enough and need to prepare my Statement of Purpose for my application. While the prospect of having to apply to school’s again is daunting enough, I’m hoping that getting an early start will make the next semester more relaxing.
Beyond just school and internship responsibilities, though, I’ve still managed to find plenty of time for recreation this summer. The local movie theater has free movies for Argonne employees on Wednesday nights, and I’ve started playing rugby for a local men’s team!
With all that’s already happened, it feels like my summer should be close to ending! Thankfully, though, I still have many more days until I begin my final year at USC!
Hope you enjoyed my first summer blog post and feel free to follow me on twitter at @ZTakeo for more updates on a Viterbi Student’s summer life!