I had the opportunity to work with experts in the field of energy and propulsion for underwater systems with a focus on naval defense infrastructure. As an undergraduate chemistry student, my research experience was limited to fundamental studies in electrochemistry and basic lab work that was very limited by the time I had between classes. However working for NUWC I not only gained research experience but acquired an appreciation for the bigger picture of science, which involves solving crucial problems that must be integrated harmoniously with the engineering and software development to make new technology possible. The mentors at the facility were very helpful on directing me along the right track to produce data that had to be required while providing me with enough freedom to learn from my own mistakes and attempt to solve problems using my knowledge and digression.
What I wish was different
The only thing that I would have liked was to work with more interns at the facility. I would often be working alone which was beneficial towards my development of personal problem solving skills. However I did not have much exposure to working along side a team of others on a daily basis to attempt at cracking more integrated problems requiring several skill sets.
It is very important to listen to every piece of advice that an elder of more experience gives, for they only give advice out of the knowledge and experience they have gained from the work they have done. I would often question or disagree with one of my main supervisors but understood by the end of the day that their methods are not random, and are thought out carefully with good reason. Another important lesson to keep in mind is that often the most seemingly boring of tasks have greater meaning to be reaped. There is always something to learn from even the most monotonous of tasks.