That’s a question we often hear asked to our DIS students upon returning from summer break. For one DIS senior, Nora Desmond, the summer was spent not travelling the world, suntanning on the beach, or lounging around the pool; but interning at a research lab at UT Dallas. Nora has high hopes for a career in Engineering or Computer Science, and this was the perfect opportunity for her to be immersed in the world of cutting edge research. The internship opportunity was arranged by our DIS Computer Science and Engineering department with UT Dallas and representatives from the SMU Engineering department.
The Center for Multi-Scale Integrated Intelligent Interactive Sensing (MINTS) at UT Dallas, run by Dr. David Lary, is located adjacent to the DIS Waterview campus, so it is an easy walk from our building to the research lab. Nora made this walk regularly throughout the summer to help in creating remote sensor networks connected via LoRa (long range) wireless to gather air quality readings on atmospheric particulate matter (PM), specifically particular matter that have diameters of 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5). To put that into perspective, it’s about 3% of the diameter of a human hair.
Working alongside UT Dallas Engineering graduate students in Dr. Lary’s lab, Nora also gained field experience, hands-on building, programmed microcontrollers, and worked side-by-side with graduate students and research engineers. She plans to continue with the lab throughout the school year and hopes to pursue an Engineering or Computer Science degree after high school, furthering women in engineering and technology.
DIS and the MINTS lab have plans to collaborate on Dr. Lary’s air quality network by having our own DIS students create, test, and calibrate some of the PM2.5 air quality sensor packs that we will design and build. This will be the year’s project in the “Projects in Applied Science and Engineering” elective course with Douglas Lee this year, alongside Nora as the class teaching assistant. Collaborating with SMU and UT Dallas in this unique partnership will give our students early experience in this dynamic profession. We are looking for DIS families to host some of these sensor packs outside their homes so we can gather as much PM2.5 air quality data as we can, so please contact Douglas Lee if you are interested. Don’t be surprised if you see our students around the Waterview campus testing the air quality in the carpool line!