During the summer vacation, from January to February 2015, we travelled to North Carolina State University in USA. Our group consisted of five students from the UNSW School of Materials Science and Engineering. Each of us were assigned to different research groups and supervisors within the corresponding department at NCSU.
The different projects were as follows:
Amanda: Dewetting behaviour of Au on Indium Tin Oxide, a critical process limiting effect in microprocessor manufacturing.
Irene: Investigation of Defect Chemistry on Titanium Dioxide, understanding the defect states by using UV-Vis
Ralph: Post Crystallisation annealing study of PZT thin films for the development of high performance micro-mechanical devices.
Scarlet: Synthesis of an Entropically-Stabilised Lithium-Ion Cathode for next-generation battery materials.
Thai: Characterisation of High Entropy Alloy NiFeCroCoMn via Computation for the prediction of ultra-strong metallic materials.
We all learnt the flexible nature of research and how unpredictable the outcomes can be. It was an enriching academic, social and professional endeavour. ( Photo: Amanda Lai, Irene Susanto, Scarlet Kong, Jacob Jones (NCSU), Thai Ly and Ralph Bulanadi)
During our first weekend, we attempted to understand the transport system in Raleigh. Our goal was to reach a mall that was 20 minutes away via bus. However, the trip eventually took upwards of an hour including a bus transfer. This highlighted how lucky we are to have such a convenient transit system in Sydney.
Our next travel ordeal was boarding Greyhound coach buses interstate to Washington DC and New York City and back home all within 48 hours. In DC, we walked along the National Mall taking tourist photos of the White House, Washington Monument, and various national figures in sub-freezing temperatures. Then it was off to NYC for a 5am start.
This was a bit of a blur. With tired eyes and swollen feet we found breakfast, passing by a deserted Times Square, Broadway, Madison Square garden and Fifth Avenue. Getting to the top of the Empire State building in the dreary weather was like walking on clouds above the city. We rode the subway to see the Statue of Liberty from the tail end of Manhattan Island, and later to Chinatown, Rockerfeller Centre, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Deciding to test our limits, we all learned to ski and snowboard for the first time with American postgraduate students in the Appalachian Mountains, just 3 hours from Raleigh. The cabin was amazing and the slopes were picturesque. We returned with bruises and smiles.
There was a rare snowy week in Raleigh at the end of February which was filled with impromptu snow ball fights, making snowmen, snow angels and taking social media selfies.
With all the amazing new people we met, we noticed the little things that made Australia unique. We taught them Aussie slang, the proper way to spell gaol and aluminium, and the wonders of fairy bread. In return, they showed us their Superbowl, college basketball and state ice hockey.
Many thanks to John Daniels for arranging the trip and Jacob Jones (NCSU) for hosting us and all the graduate students and amazing people we became friends with.
We will never forget you!