All I have talked about this summer are the projects that I am currently working on; I've only briefly mentioned last year's project. Many of you are probably wondering why. Well, the only reason why I haven't mentioned last year's project is because I have been trying to keep everyone up to date with what I am doing now at Indium Corporation. My 2015 project was just as important as the projects I am working on this summer. Honestly, I would say last year's project was more important to me because it was my very first "real-world" project. It is a really big deal for a student in college. This project also proved to me that I am definitely going down the correct career path.
I remember that, on my first day of work, I was really nervous because I didn't know anyone and it didn't help that my supervisor, Todd Ellenor, couldn't be there. I met Dan Siedsma who showed me around and told me about my project, but he didn't know much about what I was doing, just what I would be working with, an indium compound. On that first day I researched everything I could about the compound. The following day my supervisor told me that my project involved developing a process to extract the indium from the compound. I knew this was going to be difficult, so I researched for the first 2-3 weeks of my internship trying to come up with a lab-scale process that would extract the indium. Eventually I developed an idea that was a different way to reclaim indium but ended up working really well for this material.
Usually indium is reclaimed using acid but I wanted to take a different approach so I thermally decomposed the compound to reclaim the indium. My boss loved this idea but neither of us knew if it would work. So, in the beginning of my 4th week, I went into the lab to try out my experiment. The cool thing about this was that it actually worked. I needed to adjust some of the equipment to make it better but, overall, I was successfully reclaiming the indium. Over the next 7 weeks I performed DOEs (design of experiments) to decompose the material at various temperatures, times, and particle sizes to find the ideal combination to reclaim indium. The last week of my internship I wrote a lab report that stated everything about my experiment including the procedure, data, and results. I thought this project was just going to be a learning experience for me but little did I know how important this project was to the company.
Once my experiments were over, I had a meeting with my supervisor and Bill Jackson, the director and general manager of compounds, about my experiment and the results I had. They were completely blown away. I was reclaiming indium with purities up to 99.9999%. I honestly couldn't believe it either. The moment that I will never forget was when Bill looked at me and said, "You have no idea what you just did for this company. Your work was remarkable and has made a breakthrough for this company." I still can't stop smiling about my successes from this project.
I ran into Bill when I returned to Indium Corporation this summer for my internship. He told me that they are in the process of implementing my reclaim process into one of the facilities. That was an incredible feeling for me knowing that I designed this experiment that would later benefit the company.
The video below shows all the interns last year and and their experiences from working at Indium Corporation. If anyone has any questions about what I did last summer feel free to ask!
Until Next Time,