RIT Summer Internship Gives High School Students a Taste of Imaging Science
The competitive program gives students hands-on experience
Aug. 14, 2007
by Susan Gawlowicz
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This summer a group of local high school students is finding out what it’s like to be imaging scientists.
The 13 students were chosen to participate in Rochester Institute of Technology’s eighth annual Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science Summer Internship Program. The competitive, seven-week program places students in the center’s various research labs where they work 40 hours a week. The students earn $8 an hour for their time, but gain far more in knowledge and experience.
“We’re actually doing research,” says May Cheung, a senior at Webster-Schroeder High School. “I feel like we’re students here.”
Cheung and Raliek Boswell from Edison High School work under the direction of professor Joseph Hornak in the MRI lab, and are testing new imaging materials and methods. Cheung and Boswell presented their research at RIT’s Undergraduate Research Symposium earlier this month.
Nan Wang, from Brighton High School, joined the PRISM (Print Research Imaging Systems Modeling) lab in July and quickly became part of the group. Wang is using a new instrumental technique for measuring the glossiness of printed materials—an area of particular interest to companies like Xerox and Hewlett Packard.
“Everyone brings something to the table, including a high school intern who has good insights,” says Jon Arney, co-director of the PRISM lab.
Other interns can be found working in the biomedical imaging lab and the visual perception lab, or with scientists in the remote sensing and astronomy groups.
Bob Callens, a physics teacher at Honeoye Falls-Lima High School, has coordinated the summer intern program at RIT for five years in conjunction with Joe Pow, associate director of the Center for Imaging Science.
Typically, the interns work independently of each other or in small groups assigned to different labs. To provide cohesion, Callens requires the students to attend a daily staff meeting, field trips to local imaging-related businesses and to submit daily blogs of their experiences. The interns will defend their projects in the final capstone event of the summer from 9:30 a.m. to noon, Friday, Aug. 24, in the Carlson auditorium, room 1125. The public is welcome to attend.
“The summer intern program is all about creating opportunities for high school students to engage in real scientific and engineering research as integral parts of our laboratories, working side by side with faculty, staff and undergraduate and graduate students,” says Stefi Baum, director of the Center for Imaging Science. “The sooner we can show students the impact they can have on the world through a career in science or engineering, the more we help build the critical U.S. workforce in these areas for the future.”
The summer internship program is open to qualified juniors who show a level of proficiency in math and science. The competitive selection process begins in January and includes extensive interviews.
The number of students accepted depends on the availability of projects and researchers. Last year, the program accommodated a larger group of 17 interns.
“Over the past few years, there have been as many as 40 applicants and as few as 20,” says Pow, who started the internship program in 2000. “Including this year’s group, a total of 71 students have gone through the program. We hope it encourages students to come to RIT.”
“Once they’re here they realize pretty quickly they’re part of the whole place,” Callens says. “It gives them a whole new world to shoot for.”