Thursday, August 4, 2011

ISAS 2011 Academy 2 Day 5

After returning from NASA Ames Research Center, the students were able to rest for a little while before continuing to visit even more STEM facilities. With a quick and early breakfast, the students piled into a coach which took them to Micron Technology for a day of exploration around a worldwide manufacturer of electronic goods. For those who do not know, Micron specializes in creating revolutionary memory units for computers and other devices. The students were taken ‘behind-the-scenes’ of Micron where all the laboratories for their chip research are located. Once there, the students were further split into smaller tour groups. One presentation, at the Central Lab, was done by David Fillmore who described to the students his job as an “electronics CSI” and the methods he employed such as using X-ray spectrometers which enabled Dave and his co-workers to scan the surfaces of the test wafers. Other exams included studying the crystals of the wafers in order to determine the composition and, in a sense, better the production method of the final products, and using a mass spectrometer to determine more properties of the silicon by its mass.

The next stop for the students was the Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) in which the members working there showed the students that to get a sample ready for the TEM, it had to reduce an already micrometer thick sample down to nanometer thickness. They also learned that Micron is one of very few places, if not the only place, to have four electron microscopes working at the same time. Though what impressed the students the most was the “images” of the microchips that were being tested in the microscopes. When asked if they could have copies of the atom-sized images, the engineers responded by telling them that it would be simpler to take a black and white photo of their own denim jeans.

They were later taken to the fabrication area of Micron where Micron’s in-house made robots were seen taking pieces of DDR Ram and fitting them into their plastic casings. Corey Morasch explained to the students the importance of engineers, not just for Micron but also for many technology-based enterprises, and their contributions to society. Also, to sweeten the idea of studying engineering, Corey spoke to the students about how technicians can make $30,000 a year working for Micron or other places, but engineers can make twice that immediately after college.
As the students were led back to the entrance to the factory, they were brought into a small conference room where they listened to a presentation by Dr. Chandra Mouli about how to succeed in technology careers. One of his first statements to the students was that one needs, “to find what you love and become really good at it…really good.” Dr. Mouli stressed to the students that it is impossible to succeed in STEM without having that passion. He encouraged students to work hard, but to also be careful not to work for the sake of working. Instead, they should enjoy their work. “Don’t be a workaholic, be a workafrolic.” He showed the students many different strategies to take full advantage of their time management as well as ethics in industry. He discussed many areas where an individual can fall short of what is necessary to be in a STEM career. He showed the students that succeeding in technology is an exceptionally complicated process. Although these students are still only in high school, these concepts are valuable to learn now, so that they may shine brighter than other students their own age, and be able to succeed.

While eating a delicious lunch of fajitas at Micron, the students received a surprise visit from the Vice President of Memory System Development, Dean A. Klein. He demonstrated to the students the use of Micron technology in a quadricopter (a small toy helicopter flown by four blades), which was controlled by an iPad 2. He showed the students that Micron and other companies in similar industries are vital to everyday products. Whether it be from a laptop computer to a simple toy. 

Upon completing the visit to Micron, the students were taken to Simplot Fields in order to witness a rocket being launched. After spending a good portion of the day inside Micron, the students were visibly restored by the fresh air. Although there were some technical difficulties with launching the rocket caused it to remain grounded, the students still enjoyed having a short moment to stretch their legs.

Students crowding about the rocket

Rocket on launch pad
After the rocket attempt, the students returned to the Boise State Engineering buildings in order to continue the hard work required of them to design a realistic mission to Mars. Armed with new knowledge and resource after visiting Ames and Micron, the students were able to dive into their work with a renewed bout of confidence. During this time, a few students shared their feelings of the program so far.

Due to some technical difficulties the video will not appear on the blog, however here is the link

The students worked hard until dinner, and were happy to have a short break in the action. Before they left however, students were introduced to Astronaut Jose M. Hernandez in order to allow them to talk with him during dinner.

After the dinner, the students got to listen to a presentation by Jose M. Hernandez about his experience of being an astronaut and what he has witnessed in his years of working with NASA. He also told the students his background, and how no background could define where he wanted to go or what he wanted to do. He told the students many interesting stories about his childhood. One story was about how his father would always have him adjust the rabbit ears on the television while they were watching the Apollo moonwalks. He said how he still kids his family members that, “that’s why I became an astronaut, through osmosis.” He told the story of how he was selected to be an astronaut, and the triumphs he overcame to get to where he is today. His story was a very encouraging to students, and taught everyone to not give up on their dreams. He then showed the students a video of the entire Discovery mission which he was a member. He also gave the students a detailed narration of the mission, and explained the life of an astronaut up in space. The most memorable quote of the evening was, “It took me to go out of this world to see that we all are one.”
 “It took me to go out of this world to see that we all are one.”
 -- Astronaut Jose Hernandez

After a quick photo opportunity with the astronaut, the students relaxed for the rest of the evening by trekking to the Student Union to bowl, play billiards, and Frisbee. The students received a much deserved break after a long day of work.

These blogs will continue to be uploaded daily, once the students have completed their final activities each night. A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded onto the ISAS Summer Academy Facebook  page, as well as to Twitterat ISAS_Academy. The students look forward to another difficult day as they finalize their missions and presentations.

No comments:

Post a Comment