Indium Blog

Solder Alloys & A Sense of Belonging

  • 2020 College Interns
  • And with the seventh week coming to a close, I find myself generating more questions about my work than at the end of week one. Learning about the unique position Indium Corporation has within the industry is an internship-long goal and can only be understood with time and being present at inevitable interactions between various departments. With formal training in Materials Science, even I was previously unaware of the breadth of markets (see above) Indium Corporation services: fiber optics, fire suppression, and 5G to name a few. Yet this internship is not simply about completing the tasks at hand, but growing into your professional self. Along the way, you learn what you like and don’t like about a company’s culture, and have to ask yourself if you’d be satisfied with doing similar work in the future. If not, great. If yes, also great. Any experience is a good experience, especially one that occurs during a pandemic.

    Part of fitting into your own shoes includes developing self-autonomy. It’s rewarding that after seven weeks I’ve developed my own rhythm and now walk the factory floor with a purpose. Sometimes fellow colleagues even ask me for technical advice. Being able to run tests and use equipment independently has allowed me to accomplish more throughout the day, as well as not burden others. With this self-autonomy comes insight and the understanding of best practices, continually refining my mental model for the experiments and instruments I use.

    Within the classroom, the distinction between learning and doing is always emphasized, and this is true within a corporate research setting. Such is the case for preparing samples. Personal practice and enhanced technique does help to ensure consistency between trials. After all, the equation "garbage in equals garbage out" still holds true. The preparation of samples themselves jumps to the front of my mind because this usually takes longer than whatever the task they're used for. While this can be all too well known to some in the scientific community, it can appear hindering to me since this internship concludes in just two short weeks and I plan to cram in all the results I can before my time is up. I look forward to finishing strong with an ever-increasing efficiency!

    Lastly, I wanted to touch on the irony of storing alloy samples in my cubicle. I could say they are there to help keep me grounded in my work, much like the ground where the elements in them were originally found, but that would be a stretch. While it makes for convenient storage when traveling to different facilities, the aspect of having something tangible nearby that I helped fabricate into its current form was appealing to me. It serves as both a reminder of the stakes of my project, and taunts me as a trove of information waiting to be characterized. Moving forward, I hope future hunks of metal don’t provoke such deep reflection…