Becoming a pilot may be one of the coolest things someone can do. I recently learned that some of our lab directors are also pilots and fly aircraft locally in Lincoln fairly often. While I already thought they were cool, the overall cool-factor certainly spike a bit. While I can’t fly planes (yet), this week I passed the FAA Part 107 Drone Pilot test! Early in the semester, the lab offered to fund our test and a group of us can now call ourselves certified drone pilots. This means that we can legally operate small UAVs in an official capacity. Studying for the test was actually super interesting because I learned a lot about airspace regulations, something I knew nothing about prior to entering the program. While this was a great way to start our week, there were certainly many bittersweet moments toward the end.
I learned so much this summer. I worked with Robot Operating System (ROS), learned Python, explored neural networks, and dove into a huge data set. I also learned so many important pieces of the research process, from writing effective papers to understanding how research is funded. But for me, I think the relationships I developed will be the thing I value most. Our cohort was eleven people from all over the country (and the world!). While the majority of us studied computer science, we also had people from multiple engineering disciplines and even psychology. We worked really well together and I think our diverse backgrounds helped us to that end. I also appreciate the relationships I developed with my graduate student mentors and faculty advisors. From navigating graduate school to identifying impactful research topics, my mentors have helped me imagine my own future in research.
Thursday was our final day in the SRP program (I’m currently writing from Philadelphia!) and it was certainly an exciting day. We began in the morning with our culminating research symposium. During the first hour, I spent time judging my assigned posters (it was a competition) and the second hour presenting my own work. The energy was so great in the room and I was glad for the opportunity to learn about some of the great research being done around campus! We ended the evening with a formal banquet, which was a great way to finish out the program. All of the faculty advisors got up to say great things about their summer researchers and awards were extended to those who did superior work. I am proud of one of our own cohort members who was awarded second place out of the entire SRP program for his poster presentation! While the banquet was great, afterward we all had to do the hard work of saying goodbye to one another. After lots of great pictures, I went home to pack up my thing and get ready to leave.
This summer I made amazing relationships and I can’t believe how much I learned in such a short time! My experience in the NIMBUS lab was absolutely amazing and has certainly helped drive my goal for a future career in research.