For Oregon State graduate and Tigard native Matt Chin, a longtime love of science was fostered by his childhood mentors. Teachers from fifth grade on helped Chin focus his passion, which led him to the field in which he’d eventually earn a Master’s degree – electrical engineering. Now, Chin is in Adelphi, Maryland, working in a full-time research position with the U.S. Army. He was able to get his position through the internship he did while at Oregon State.
Here, we ask Chin how he transitioned a newly-acquired degree into a full-time job.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I recently graduated with a Master’s of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. I defended my thesis, “Magnetically programmable surface acoustic wave devices for RFID applications,” in March, and I have been working as a research intern for the U.S. Army in Adelphi, Maryland.
What did you do during your internship?
I spent a year and three months at the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi. I worked on projects related to nanoelectronics and new novel materials. For example, I was able to work on the development of carbon nanotube and graphene-based devices and circuits. Carbon nanotubes and graphene are materials composed of carbon sheets just one atom thick. These nano-sized materials have applications in electronic devices and energy harvesting systems to be mounted on small robots and soldier uniforms.
When I went, I actually drove from Corvallis and made a road trip of the drive to Maryland.
How did you get this internship?
As a student, I did research with the Applied Magnetics Laboratory, which works alongside the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI). I was working on an NSF-funded project, and the Army Research Lab came in and looked at recommended students’ resumes in addition to reviewing our projects. They saw my resume, liked what they saw and asked if I wanted to be an intern with them.
What’s inspired you to study science and engineering?
I would say that my 5th grade science teacher inspired me the most to explore science and engineering. He definitely pointed me in the right direction. Through middle school and high school, I gravitated toward those fields when looking at options for taking classes or getting involved with clubs. I had a teacher in high school who was very supportive as well. A lot of it has been encouragement from teachers that I had growing up.
Those teachers always projected a certain level of excitement and passion for their work, especially in the sciences, so I think that kind of rubbed off on me. I hope in the future that I can be that person for younger students like those teachers were for me.
What advice do you have for students looking for internships?
I would say apply, apply, and apply some more to a lot of places. Take the opportunities that are given to you and make sure to try new things. It’s an excellent way to figure out what you would like to do in the future, and just as importantly, things that you wouldn’t want to do in the future. I think internships are a great opportunity to test the waters in terms of a career.
The internship I had at the Army Research Lab ended up leading to a full-time position. So, I’m back in Maryland working for the research team that I had interned with and continuously learning new things.