An image of Sona DadhaniaCan you tell us about yourself? 

I’m an Indian-American, born and raised in the state of New Jersey, USA. I got a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) degree in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) in 2019. While at UPenn, I started specializing in polymeric materials, and eventually I became very interested in materials for 3D printing. Also in 2019, I received the Thouron Award, a fellowship for UPenn graduates to study any postgraduate degree in the UK, which is the primary reason I’ve been able to come and study here. Outside of these academic aspects of my life, I love dancing, painting, playing video games, visiting new places, and trying new food!

Why did you choose Imperial Materials for MSc study?

My faculty advisor at UPenn, who is British himself, initially recommended Imperial when I was first thinking about studying abroad, because he thought it would be a good fit for me. As I researched Imperial Materials more, I really appreciated the size and breadth of the department’s research. This meant that I would have every chance to explore my interests, especially 3D printing materials research, with the MSc research project.

How do you find the course? Any highlights so far?

While the structure of the course is far different from the structure of my undergrad degree, I like the amount of time I have to pursue my interests, both in and out of the classroom. I’ve really enjoyed how well my classes and research project go together. I took all three of the course’s bio-related modules – Biomaterials, Advanced Biomaterials, and Advanced Tissue Engineering. I found that the content in this combination of courses really synergized well, so that I left feeling like I actually understood what was covered. These courses also worked really well with my research project, which looked at novel hybrid sol-gel materials, as my supervisor Dr. Julian Jones led two of these modules.

What is your typical day like?

During the winter and spring terms, my day started with commuting to Imperial for my morning classes. At lunchtime, my friends in the MSc course and I would get together to eat and chat, especially on Tuesdays when the Farmer’s Market was at Imperial. In the afternoon, I would either have classes, a bit of coursework to finish, or some research work to do, like learning how to make or 3D print samples. After that, I would either take a walk through Hyde Park to get to my side job or stroll through South Ken and Sloane Square to get home. I absolutely love walking through London – it’s one of my favorite parts of living here. Sometimes, other MSc students and I would get together after class at H-bar or the Union bar to hang out and have a good time.

What are your plans for the future?

I hope to get a job working in materials development for additive manufacturing, specifically polymeric materials. I find that additive manufacturing is the next frontier for innovation in many fields, like medical technology or aerospace engineering, and in my opinion, the factor dictating the boundaries of what additive manufacturing can accomplish is the materials we can print. I would love to work for companies specializing in additive manufacturing like Carbon3D, Formlabs, or Stratasys, but I’m also open to working for one of the many chemical companies that produce materials for 3D printing, like Evonik or Solvay.