APS News

Students Find Summer Internships With ISIP; Program Discontinued

Since its inception 18 years ago, the APS Industrial Summer Intern Program (ISIP) has helped over 270 U.S. college students secure summer employment in some of the country's best industrial laboratories, thus gaining valuable hands-on experience in that research environment. This year the program placed 10 students in some of the nation's top industrial and national laboratories, out of 54 applications received. Unfortunately, while participating interns and their employers has been overwhelmingly positive, the program will be discontinued this year because of declining student participation.

Established by the APS Committee on Education in 1978, ISIP provided an opportunity for qualified U.S. physics students to broaden their training by working in an industrial environment for 10 weeks during the summer. Interns received their salaries from their industrial employers. The primary benefits of the program include exposure to industrial research and the opportunity to establish important contacts in industry.

"Students aren't generally aware that interesting physics can be done in an industrial setting," said APS Associate Executive Officer Barrett Ripin.

The program also benefited the participating industrial laboratories. Interns often produce useful results that help advance a company's scientific program, and may return to industry after earning their Ph.Ds.

For example, Mead Mason Jordan spent his summer at Analog Devices, working with the computer-aided design (CAD) research group, which prepares and fine-tunes tools for circuit and layout designers. According to his supervisor, Adolfo Nemirovsky, his project was very successful. In fact, as a result of Jordan's internship, the company's upper management recently approved hiring people with physics backgrounds for positions in the CAD group, which previously hired mostly electrical engineering or computer science people. Jordan is currently pursuing graduate studies at Washington University in St. Louis, Miss.

During her internship with Milliken Research Corporation, Erica Bramley helped build equipment to draw ferroelectric polymer fibers which, under certain conditions, exhibit piezoelectric ("smart material") properties. She drew the fibers and then used differential scanning calorimetry to measure the degree of phase change created, and even did a little x-ray scattering to confirm the results. Her liquid crystal background proved especially useful in helping her orient the project quickly. Her supervisor, Brian Morin, said the ISIP program helped him recruit qualified applicants more effectively, adding that Bramley's work advanced the project far enough to make a decision as to whether it was worth pursuing more avidly, with a planned application in textiles.

Matthew Abraham spent the summer at Lucent Technologies after graduating with a B.S. in physics from Haverford College. He made differential mode delay measurements in novel types of optical fibers, injecting pulsed modes one at a time and measuring their propagation velocity directly, a strong indicator of the amount of information that can be transmitted over an optical fiber. Despite the complexity of the experiment and numerous equipment setbacks, Abraham managed to make the experiment work, according to his supervisor, Whitney White. Abraham is currently pursuing graduate studies at Harvard University.

The other ISIP interns and companies for the summer of 1997 were:

Nathan Noble Dow Corning Corporation
Mark Williams Exxon Corporation
Eric Shields Sandia National Laboratories
Alexei Erchak Sandia National Laboratories
Eric Gansen GE Lighting
Jenny Magnes Argonne National Laboratory
Goran Krilov AT&T Bell Laboratories

The reason for the declining interest in ISIP among students appears to be the large number of local summer intern programs available in industry, government, and through NSF REUs. However, APS involvement in student internships may return, but geared to the graduate level in an effort to broaden graduate training to include industrial experience, Ripin said.

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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin