The Institute for Applied Life Sciences (IALS) has launched its first summer intern program, providing hands-on experience to prepare students for fruitful careers in high-demand industries. Interns across many disciplines are performing 3D printing, laser cutting, human observation, human studies and cell testing.
“This internship has been an excellent opportunity for me to learn the ins and outs of how a study is run, to hone my leadership skills, and to make important networking connections" —Katie Colfer
Katie Colfer, a senior kinesiology major, works in the Human Testing Center, which advances physiological, biomechanical, and behavioral studies. “I’m working on a study called MBAT, which stands for movement and behavioral assessment technology,” she says. “We’re testing a new type of activity monitor that tracks your physical activity.” Colfer ensures the device functions by cross-testing with other activity monitors and direct observation.
“It’s been great to sit down with companies, hear their ideas, then turn those into reality and hand them what I’ve made.” —Maddy Scott
Mechanical engineering majors Adam Rice and Maddy Scott work in the Advanced Digital Design & Fabrication (ADDFab) facility, housing 3D printers and laser cutters used for research, education and printing parts. This role gives them the chance to design, develop and produce innovative new projects. Rice and Scott work with companies to design 3D models of their products, and bring those products to life with 3D printers and laser cutting technology. “We’ve been learning by trying,” says Rice.
In addition to their technical contributions, interns bring fresh perspectives, new ideas, and creative ways to approach challenges. “In my 10 weeks here, I’ve worked one-on-one with companies, toured facilities, and even given a presentation at FLIR Systems. It’s been building my confidence,” says Rice. “I’ve had no real engineering experience before this and this is my first time really applying it and seeing how people do this as a career.”
"This [internship] has helped me appreciate what happens here at UMass Amherst" —Tony Nguyen
Tony Nguyen, a biochemistry and molecular biology major, is spending his summer in the Flow Cytometry Lab at IALS, which supports researchers looking for specific cell populations within a culture using flow cytometry and live animal imaging technologies. “When you grow stuff on tissue culture, for example, you can have contaminants, so you want to target your specific population for study,” Nguyen explains. “Our lab makes that much easier.”
Great interns are energetic and willing to learn, and while they're building skills and resume value for their own careers, they can also be a tremendous asset for IALS and the University. “I’m really glad I applied for this internship because there’s so many applications I can use it for in future jobs,” says Nguyen. “I couldn’t ask for more. I really hope they continue, because this has helped me appreciate what happens here at UMass Amherst.”