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Naomi Nelson

Naomi Nelson, BS '22

How did you become interested in engineering? Tell us about the pathways that lead you to UW MSE.

My high school academic counselor was the first to take note of my strengths and interests in math and physics courses, and brought to my attention that I should look into becoming an engineer. During the summer prior to my senior year, he encouraged me to participate in the Engineering Academy program at UW. This program helped me explore the field of engineering, and exposed me to college-level engineering curriculum. Following this experience, I had decided by my senior year that pursuing an engineering degree was the overall best choice for me. My next step upon graduation was assessing which area of engineering I was most interested in. After doing some research, MSE caught my interest because the broad nature of the field allows the ability to utilize both scientific and engineering fundamentals. The diverse applications in MSE research here at UW ultimately led me to pursue this major.

Could you share an interesting internship or research lab experience you had?

I worked in Professor Miqin Zhang's research lab studying injectable hydrogel materials for biomedical applications for about 2 years. Initially, the graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the group helped train me on polymerization processes, as well as how to test the material's functionality. The most interesting thing about this experience was learning how in-depth the process for validating biomaterials is. From synthesis, to functional testing, cell viability assays, tissue compatibility and animal testing, this process is very involved and takes lots time and collaboration to achieve results.

Overall, this opportunity helped me gain first-hand experience with conducting my own experiments, testing, and characterizing polymers, and furthered my interest in biomaterials and polymers.

What did you enjoy most about your time with UW MSE?

I greatly appreciated the abundance of support and resources available in the MSE department. In every class, lab course or research project I was involved in the professors, TAs and staff were always available to help and provided as much support as possible for everyone to succeed.

What are you doing now, and how are you putting your MSE degree to use?

I'm currently working an internship position as an R&D Process Engineer. In this position, I'm actively applying my MSE knowledge by determining how materials processing will affect the properties and performance of parts to be designed for products.

Shortly after, I will begin my Master's degree to continue furthering my knowledge of materials.

Ultimately, I feel my MSE degree helped me build a solid foundation to pursue a wide variety of research applications within the engineering field in the future!

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Get involved in extracurricular activities if you can! There are plenty of opportunities to join clubs, RSO's and research groups to get some hands-on experience and make great connections with professors and peers.