Summer After Freshman Year: Research and Relaxation

Maria Chemical, Maria, Research, Viterbi Summer, Women In Engineering Leave a Comment

This summer, I went home to Orlando for the first half of the summer, then came back to USC for summer research.

My first half of the summer was really Floridian. I went to Miami a few times, and the beach, and Downtown Disney; I drank a lot of orange juice; I jumped on the Orlando City Soccer Club bandwagon. It was really nice to go home and explore the area (and sleep for days), but I definitely missed LA after 10 pm when everything closed.

Orlando City vs. LA Galaxy was a hard, hard choice

Orlando City vs. LA Galaxy was a hard, hard choice

Luckily, I came back to USC early. I knew I wanted to work in the lab over the summer, so I applied to one of USC’s summer research scholarships, the Summer 2015 USC Provost‘s Undergraduate Research Fellowship and received a stipend for my stay.

As usual, the rain followed me to LA

As usual, the rain followed me to LA

Today was actually my first day back in Professor Nutt’s composites lab. I’ll be continuing a project which creates vacuum bag only prepregs. Prepregs are any type of fabric reinforcement (in this case, glass fibers) that has been pre-impregnated with resin.

 

Here's the lab, clearly having missed me

Here’s the lab, clearly having missed me

We use a resin, vinyl hybrid, that creates a prepreg that does not need to be frozen to remain strong. Our vinyl hybrid is made to compete with industry standard epoxy, which is extremely strong and flexible, but needs to be frozen in the prepreg stage.

We leave several sheets of epoxy and vinyl hybrid prepreg out at room temperature, then prepare weekly samples by baking them, and perform a variety of strength, flexibility, and void tests on the samples to test their performance over time.

If that doesn’t sound riveting, I don’t know what would!

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