SPS Internship at NIST, Gaithersburg, MD

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week 9 - Aug 1, 2008 at 2:36PM
Kunal Bhatnagar
9 Posts

THE CRAZY TRIP - After getting only two hours of sleep last Friday night, Meagan, Logan and I left the dorms at 2:30 a.m. in the night to take the metro to Chinatown where we boarded our bus for New York City. The bus ride might not have been the most comfortable, but we made it to the “Big Apple” on early Saturday morning. From here, we took the subway straight to the Cathedral Park station which was the closest to “Tom’s Restaurant”, the famous diner from the TV show Seinfeld. Although the inner settings were not what I thought they would be, the spinach omelette and sausage made for a good breakfast. After this, we went straight to Central Park to see John Lennon’s memorial at the Strawberry Fields. From here, we took the subway and headed towards the Museum  of Modern Art, snapping pictures all this time. The subway system in New York is a lot more challenging and difficult to follow than DC’s, especially for first-timers, but I think we worked together as a team pretty well to figure it out. After spending almost two-and-a-half hours in the Museum (which has definitely introduced a new meaning of modern art for me), we split ways and I went to some family friends from India and get my stuff that my mom had sent for me. We reunited in an hour and ate lunch at Angelo’s Pizza which is a crazy coincidence since we are from San Angelo. Next on the list was a visit to Times Square, which was exactly what I had expected it to be and then the Rockefeller Plaza, where we a took a trip to the “Top pf the Rock” and got an amazing view of the city and definitely some pictures for the collection. Later, we went to the World  Trade Center site, which was not that interesting, so we went to Battery Park instead to see the Statue of Liberty and the waterfalls, only from a distance though. As it was getting dark, we decided to head back to our bus station and caught a glimpse of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridge on our way there. After eating at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, we finally bid NYC goodbye and headed back home to DC.




Sunday was “sleep till the afternoon” day as we were really exhausted. Also, Gary threw a party for all the interns which was fun, especially with him playing the lead singer in Rockband J. My friend Nitish from High school spent the night as he was flying back to India on Monday morning. I was glad that he came because I hadn’t seen him since I graduated high school – two years.




On Monday, I just provided a finishing touch to my presentation and practiced it a little bit. The practice session at ACP on Tuesday was long and tiring, but Gary, Kendra and Liz had some good ideas and suggestions which everyone needed. I thought Wednesday’s presentations were a blast. Everyone did a really good job and I hope all the people who attended, learnt something from us that day. To treat ourselves for the good job that we did, some of us went and ate Thai food which was definitely a pleasant experience for me. There is not a whole lot to do at work right now, except wrapping up my project here at NIST.




We are going to try and squeeze in as much sight seeing this weekend as we can, before we leave. It’s hard to believe that the summer is already over, but I guess it’s true when they say “good times go by fast”.



Week 8 - Aug 1, 2008 at 2:35PM
Kunal Bhatnagar
9 Posts

I do not have a lot to mention about the weekend, except that I did some shopping with Meagan (I would like a medal of honor for that please!) and bought some stuff for people back at home on Saturday. On Sunday, I was able to persuade everyone (the one s not in Canada) to go to the beach. Chesapeake beach is a small town by the Chesapeake bay in Maryland, and even though it wasn't a real beach, I think everyone enjoyed themselves playing with the salty water and waves and the warm sun. I had some crab quesadillas that day, definitely a good choice!

Back at work, I decided that I needed some more data to finalize my data plots and get enough points to actually make some sense out of the data. So, I was in and out of the lab, collecting more data, analyzing it, and working on my presentation at the same time. Sometimes, due to external noise and over-heating of the equipment, the data is no good, and as I found out recently, some days are just bad days for measuring, or as I would say Tuesday . At the group meeting on Wednesday, John told us that Barbara and I will have dry runs for our presentations on Friday. And so we did, and they went pretty well. We received some constructive criticism and unbiased (GET IT!) opinion from the other group members which was really helpful and I already know what areas I have to work one. While all of this was going on, I had the time to attend two seminar talks on Wednesday and Friday. One of them was about the growing number of applications of robots in science and technology !
and the other one was about Neutron Imaging in the Hydrogen Economy in which Dr. Muhammad Arif from the Physics lab explored the application of neutron imaging for exploration of hydrogen fuel cells. Pretty interesting stuff!

I think my presentation is almost ready for next Wednesday, and hopefully I will get enough practice on Tuesday to deliver a good performance on the field on Wednesday. This weekend, we are going to take a final trip out of DC to New York City. Hopefully, we can get much accomplished and come back with a good feel for one of the largest cities in the world.

week 7 - Aug 1, 2008 at 2:34PM
Kunal Bhatnagar
9 Posts

So last Saturday, some of us went to Philadelphia, or as I like to call it - "The City of Brotherly Love". The trip began with a two-and-a-half hour bus ride starting at 6:45 in the morning. After getting our passes for a tour of the Independence Hall at the Visitor's Center, we went to see the famous Liberty bell. As it was close to lunch time and we still had time for our tour, we decided to eat a Philly Cheesesteak, and that too, at one of the most famous food joints called "Pat's King of Steaks". Logan and I tried both the steak sandwich and the cheesesteak. It was definitely worth commuting almost 5 hours in a round trip. After getting a tour of the Independence Hall where the US Constitution was signed in 1787, we also roamed around the old city hall and the Congress Hall. It was a pretty neat trip and I would definitely go back to see the other attractions that I missed this time. Sunday was the Astros vs Nationals game and I am glad to say that the Astro's won after I supported them in the heat of the sun wearing a black Astros' t-shirt (Thanks Meagan!).

Work was pretty much the same, but I also started working on my presentation a little bit and its good to know that its coming together pretty smoothly. I still have some important data to collect which I hope I can do before the final presentations. Also, the Association of NIST Hispanic Americans organized a classical guitar concert by Marcos Diaz from Spain celebrating Hispanic Heritage month. For me it was both a treat to the eyes and the ears, watching his fingers move on the fretboard.

The Pentagon tour on Thursday was quite an experience as we had the opportunity to see ground zero and the site at which the attacks took place on 9/11. The tour had to be fun, with our tour guide being from Texas. After that, we made our way over to the Dylla's picnic where they treated us to some good barbeque food, fun games and a crazy "water-fight".Since some of the interns are leaving for a meeting in Canada, we might not do a whole lot this weekend and just catch up with sleep. I have a feeling that the next few weeks are going to fly past us and end our adventure this summer. Meanwhile, I am going to try and savor every moment left of this eventful trip.

week 6 - Jul 11, 2008 at 1:46PM
Kunal Bhatnagar
9 Posts

The much awaited 4th of July weekend was finally there. Early Friday morning, all of us went to see the parade on Constitution Avenue. There were some really cool exhibits from different states and numerous marching bands and artists performing and presenting their culture. Some of us went to the Arlington National Cemetery for the afternoon and wandered around there for a while. After getting some good soup for dinner, I went and saw the amazing fireworks from right behind the white House. I thought we had a pretty decent view, and the diffraction glass I had only made it a whole lot of fun. It was at that point that I realized how true the statistic about 500,000 being in DC just for the 4th of July weekend was. Saturday was spent at the National Air and Space Museum, where they had some neat exhibits (I still can not believe that those missiles were that huge) and a cool planetarium show on black holes (that was a nice nap! :). The evening ended with some rocking blues at the Texas section of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Sunday was the Washington Monument tour which was a good experience (even though I thought I would be higher up!??!) The view is great from atop and definitely provides a whole new perspective of the city. We made it back just in time to catch the final set of the Men's Wimbledon final which was THE BEST final set I had ever seen. Kudos to Rafa for his first title and Federer – don't worry, you are still #1.

After an eventful weekend, I had to scramble at work as we had presentation on progress reports on Wednesday. A basically worked on putting all the data collected so far in a presentable form while at the same time continuing data acquisition. I am hoping to get a new sample in next week so that I can start doing more tests and analyzing the collected data. Because of the recent plutonium spill incident at boulder, Thursday was safety check day and we had meetings on safety and no one was allowed to work in the labs. So, that was a slow day. I did get a chance to attend the SURF Student Seminar at which Dr. Dale Bentz gave a talk titled "When water meets cement" from the BFRL (Building and Fire Research Lab, NIST)

Nothing particularly exciting during the week, but I did cook some delicious tuna pasta for the first time which surprisingly came out really good. I went to bed early pretty much everyday as the soccer and running leave me exhausted, and super hungry. The coming weekend promises to be an interesting one as we are going to venture outside DC, and continue to augment our list of places visited this summer.

Week 5 - Jul 7, 2008 at 12:07PM
Kunal Bhatnagar
9 Posts

Saturday of this weekend was spent in Baltimore, Maryland. The fun started with some of us getting on to the Amtrak to get to Baltimore, while the others decided to drive. The Inner Harbor was a nice place surrounded by some tall buildings besides the waters of the bay. First on the list was the National Aquarium which had a lot of exhibits going on. We also had the chance to catch a show in the 4D Immersion Theater which was definitely an experience for the first-timers in the group. The variety of aquatic life that we witnessed was both entertaining and bizarre. After that, we rode the chessie boats, the dragon chessie to be more specific. Enough time was left to go see the Body Worlds 2 exhibit at the Maryland Science Center and also treat ourselves to a scrumptious and fancy dinner at the Oceannaire. Getting back at 11:30 in the night, I remember feeling the most tired I had been in weeks.
Sunday was another fun day as we went to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival at the National Mall. One of the themes being Texas, me, Meagan, and Logan could not resist the opportunity to get some home food and a taste of the country music we have left behind. The NASA and the Bhutan exhibits also had a lot of neat stuff to present.

Work this week was still busy, as I still did a lot of data acquisition on the IPE (Internal PhotoEmission) setup and analyzed the collected data. I have to start working on putting it all together in a presentable form for it to make sense to other people. As this was a four-day work week I had to work more to compensate for the holiday on Friday.

Nothing eventful happened during the week except a dinner Thursday evening at Dr. Joe's sister Mary's house with her family. Dr. Joe Satterfield is our Geology Professor at Angelo State University. This was a treat for Meagan, Logan and I as we had been craving Tex-Mex for a while and the food that her husband cooked was better than what we had in mind. I also tried gelato for the first time, and would have to say that I liked it better than normal ice-cream.

I am only including activities until Thursday as we had an extended weekend, so the rest of the details will come in next week's journal.

Week 4 - Jul 1, 2008 at 9:39AM
Kunal Bhatnagar
9 Posts

So I am going to start this week's journal entry by saying just one word: wow . This was definitely the fastest week I have had here in DC yet. It just seems like it was yesterday, when I was writing my last entry. Anyway, there were a lot of events that happened this past week, so if I don't do justice to them by explaining them in detail, then please excuse me.

Friday was fun as one of the previous interns from last year stopped by and we had a chance to hang out with him. The weekend was once again exciting, but at the same time, extremely exhausting, as me, Logan and Meagan, went on our excursion to the National Museum of Natural History. My favorite part would have to be the cool I-Max movie about Sea-monsters that we saw, besides the various animal exhibits and gem collections. We also walked to the Smithsonian castle and learnt some interesting facts about the founder of the Smithsonian Institution and the series of museums that he donated the money for. After doing some shopping early Sunday morning, we went to the National Gallery of Art and also to the National Building Museum where we saw the exhibit on Eero Saarinen, a renowned architect of the 20th century.

Monday was the ACP Picnic, where I got to the see the ACP people after a while and everyone had a blast amongst the line dancing, the egg-spoon relay race and the spin-art booth (my first time!!). Wednesday was an important day for some of our fellow interns as they were presenting at the CNSF Exhibit. This was a great experience for all the interns as they had the opportunity to interact with all the big-shots from the NSF and some were even lucky enough to get their pictures taken with Congressmen. The Dylla's treated us to a wonderful dinner after the exhibit which was very nice of them.

Besides all the activities mentioned above, my project at work made it an even busier week. I started testing a new sample on the IPE setup, collecting lots of data and performing data analysis. My presentation on Wednesday went pretty well, considering the group leader, John Suehle, thought that I had some of the nicest plots he had ever seen and told me that I was lucky to get those good results. We also had a division picnic on Thursday, which was fun (not as fun as the one on Monday though).

Other unimportant things, but worth mentioning nevertheless, include me finally getting a hang of ironing my clothes, getting a sports coat for myself (I was proud of that) and Logan fixing the guitar (thanks Lydia), so now we can ROCK ON!!!

Week 3 - Jul 1, 2008 at 9:38AM
Kunal Bhatnagar
9 Posts

Yet another Friday, and we all went to eat supper in Georgetown at this fancy French restaurant which I don't even remember the name of, but I do recall that the food was good. This weekend was a lazy one as no one was really in the mood for sight-seeing and exploring, which I partly blame on the weather. One really good thing that happened this weekend was that some of the interns decided to buy Guitar Hero controllers and all of us found our long lost love for this awesome game again. We already rocked the house with the FEYNMEN . We did go to the zoo on Sunday, but three hours were not enough to experience the diversity of the entire animal kingdom.

After Monday, the weather certainly got a lot nicer and friendlier, which was more of a relief. I accidentally found a pick-up soccer spot behind the White House where they play pretty often. I was really excited to go play with them as I hadn't played soccer in a long time and certainly soccer s in the air with the Euro 2008 tournament bringing excitement to enthusiasts around the globe.

Work this week was slow as I finished all my data analysis in the beginning and the rest of the week was spent reading and trying to understand other important concepts related to semiconductor devices. As we are still waiting on some samples to do our tests on, I think reading is going to be my primary activity in the few coming days.

Thursday night, I went with Jenna and Justin to see the Jefferson Memorial. We got the most gorgeous shot of the Washington monument! I also promised someone that I will catch a firefly by the end of the summer.

It is crazy how fast things are moving, much like the people and the city itself (just picture the metro station in the mornings). This, by the way, has not affected my growing likeliness for the city and its ambience. It is way better than I could have ever imagined.

Week 2 - Jul 1, 2008 at 9:37AM
Kunal Bhatnagar
9 Posts

So, last Friday night we went to the Nationals game which was a blast ... literally with the fireworks and lightings.

On the weekend, we went and saw the Capitol building, the Supreme Court, and we spent a good amount of time in the Library of Congress. After lunch, we went to the National Archives were I got to see the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. The long walks and the metro rides on the weekends are tiring and the heat of the summer is certainly not helping. But, we still keep going on our exploration tours like true adventurers.

Work this week was kind of busy, as I collected a lot of data and most of the time was spent on data analysis. We had a presentation on Wednesday, in which all the summer interns working in the division talked about their projects and goals for the summer. Thursday, we had a division meeting, in which David Seiler (Division Chief) gave a presentation on our current progress and how we play an important role in the semiconductor industry.

My adviser also took me to this Vietnamese soup place called "pho nam", and the soup was delicious. Also, there was a 3 year old black bear on the NIST campus that was spotted a few days ago. No signs of the bear since then, so I think we are all safe now.

DC has been really great so far. I love the way you can get around town so easily and there are always people around. Also, I just think it's cool to tell people that you see the President of the United States everyday .. even though they might not believe you. I am definitely looking forward to seeing more interesting parts of the city and enjoying it even more in the days to come.

Week 1 - Jul 1, 2008 at 9:36AM
Kunal Bhatnagar
9 Posts

I got into DC late Saturday evening when most of my fellow interns had already gotten there. The weekend was pretty much spent in knowing the group and settling down in the big city environment, which was exciting for me.

Monday. Orientation Day. Everyone got dressed up and ready to go for the big day. We got to meet all the big shots of AIP, basically the people who run everything there and were responsible for our internships. The morning mainly consisted of introductions and a lot of information, which by the way was very useful. We took a tour of the ACP building and got a chance to interact with the staff. After lunch and some more socializing, me and Barbara headed to NIST with Gary. There I got to meet my advisor for the summer, Dr. Nhan Nguyen, who is a very nice and laid back person and loves what he does. Both Nhan and Nadine showed us their labs and gave us a brief overview of our projects this summer. After Gary took off for the afternoon, I settled into my new office and tried to setup my computer which did not work. So, Nhan showed me around the campus and explained more about what we were going to be doing. Since we really did not have a lot to do, we left around 5 pm and got back about 6:15 pm. That night, I played cranium for the first time with the group which was a lot of fun.

Tuesday morning, me and Barbara got our permanent badges for NIST in the morning. This day was exciting as I worked with some multi-million dollar equipment with Nhan. He got really hungry and we went to eat lunch at the Chinese Buffet in Gaithersburg which had a great selection of seafood and Chinese food. After lunch, I got a tutorial on the ellipsometer and we made a test run for the next day. Later that night, I went and saw the White House, the Department of Treasury and the Washington monument, and other neat stuff in the sparkling lights of DC and the drizzling rain.

On Wednesday, I went running even though I got up late. Work was pretty much the same, learning more and more and understanding important concepts, except the evacuation to the basement during the storm. Who does not like a little commotion .. haha!!

Thursday. I can not believe the amount I have already learnt. I had the opportunity to attend a laser safety awareness workshop with my mentor which was really informative. Later that night, the interns cooked fajitas while I did nothing but enjoy eating them. I finally got to see the famous Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veteran's War Memorial and also the Korean War Memorial. My favorite part though was my visit with Sir "Al" at the Albert Einstein Memorial. Also, I think that the view of the Washington Monument is gorgeous from the Lincoln Memorial and I would definitely recommend seeing it in the night.

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