Saturday Academy’s Apprenticeships in Science & Engineering (ASE) program has quite the reputation in Corvallis. For over 20 years the ASE program has partnered with Oregon State University professors and researchers to provide Corvallis high school students the opportunity to have real-world, hands-on internships in the STEM fields. When he was a junior, Nakul Sridhar, decided to apply to this program he had heard so much about throughout his years at Crescent Valley High School.
Nakul was selected to intern with Oregon State University in the Thermal-Fluid Sciences department of a mechanical engineering lab. This internship was not his top pick, but today, Nakul says, “Even though it wasn’t my first choice, it ended up being the right internship for me.” Nakul’s duties included using liquids to cool different types of surfaces -such as copper and silicon, taking images of contact angles of droplets of different fluids and taking high-speed videos of liquid droplets. His favorite part of the internship was being in control of a high-speed video camera and using it to capture the movements of fluid droplets on certain materials. He enjoyed having the independence to handle extremely expensive lab equipment in order to work on a project that would greatly contribute to his mentor’s research.
Nakul is currently finishing up the first year of his Masters in Mechanical Engineering program at the University of Washington. “If all goes well, I might try to go on to get my PhD,” Nakul says, eager to know all there is about mechanical engineering. In his studies and work, he often implements the skills he learned during his time as an ASE intern: “During my internship, I learned to be in a lab environment. How to take initiative. Even now, I find myself thinking, what the PhD students that I worked with during ASE would do if they were in my situation.” Even though his internship was six years ago, Nakul still remembers and uses what he learned.
Nakul’s time as an intern not only gave him a step up when applying to other research positions, but it also helped him discover his fascination with mechanical engineering and realize that he wants to pursue a career in it. “When I started doing the ASE program, I didn’t know what kind of engineering I wanted to study. But during my internship, I was exposed to so many different elements of mechanical engineering and realized how much I like it,” Nakul says. At the end of his time as an ASE intern, Nakul was acknowledged in his mentor’s thesis for his contributions to the project. “I’m really proud of that!” Nakul proclaims. His hard work paid off and continues to do so as he keeps on exploring his curiosity.