Robin De Meyere
Robin De Meyere (Department of Materials), MIT Summer 2016
I spent 2 months at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge MA in the department of Materials Science & Engineering completing an IROP project. The project was completely independent work where I relied on no data previously collected or the unfinished work of someone else. I first wrote a literature review on background reading before my coming to MIT, followed by a series of presentations to decide on the topic I would focus on, followed by seven weeks of gathering data by completing multiple experiments, topped off by a month of data analysis and report writing after I had left the host institution.
Nothing compared to using world-class instruments in state-of-the-art facilities at MIT. At times, there were so many tourists taking pictures of the laboratories through the glass windows that my supervisor had to step out to ask them to leave. I had my own laboratory and own office since I was working for a relatively new group, which rendered the experience all the more enjoyable. The hall we were residing in (Maseeh Hall) was also on-campus next to the main building. Speaking with other members of staff/academia, group colleagues and other UROP students in labs (including current MIT undergraduates) gave a lot of insight on the worlds of both undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Group meetings where everyone in the group presented their work were frequent, and I also had the opportunity to ask how current PhD’s thought they were successful in their applications to MIT’s postgraduate program. The working hours were relatively relaxed but the pressure to gather data was also very present.
Outside working hours, I was frequently attending dance classes one-hour away from campus, some of which finished in late evening hours (and I was walking back to Maseeh hall safely every night). Boston and Cambridge are 2 very ‘European’ cities when compared to other American metropolis, however one could still grasp a feel of how different the American mentality is to England. We also went trekking with the other IROP candidates (including other exchange students from Oxford University) in New Hampshire, followed by visits to Spectacle Island and New York amongst other destinations. I also managed to meet up with people whom I had not seen since before university.
The IROP experience in itself felt very organised therefore the entire stay felt smooth. We were given help and guidance when appropriate (including medical attention) and it was academically enriching to visit MIT for a summer.
"Nothing compared to using world-class instruments in state-of-the-art facilities at MIT. At times, there were so many tourists taking pictures of the laboratories through the glass windows that my supervisor had to step out to ask them to leave"