The Importance of Undergraduate Research
By: Chelsea Pfaffly
Hometown: Pleasant Valley, MO
Major: Civil Engineering
Clubs: SWE, Undergrad Research
Favorite class: Strength of Materials
Favorite place to study: Study rooms by the CME faculty offices
Why you chose UMKC: The opportunities and small class sizes
Participating in undergraduate research has always been on my bucket list. It is one of the most influential experiences that a college student can have. This summer I applied for the Summer Undergraduate Research Opportunity (SUROP) grant. Even though I was only a sophomore in the engineering program and I still had much to learn, I knew I could apply the knowledge I had to real life applications.
When it came to choosing what topic I wanted to focus my research on Dr. Hart, a civil engineering professor, helped guide me. She told me about her research on environmental concrete and I was super intrigued! The research I did focused on trying to collect the heavy metals from pervious concrete. I was excited about this experiment because if I could prove that the metals could be extracted, pervious concrete could be used as an economical solution to clean up mining spills. Because of this experience, I was able to spend my summer in a lab expanding my knowledge outside of the classroom and diving deeper into my interest in geotechnical engineering.
The biggest benefit for me was learning to think on my feet. Since I was conducting my own research, I was in charge of coming up with the procedure for the experiment. Quick thinking and innovation are not skills that can be learned in the classroom. They are developed through hands-on experience. During my research, when things didn’t go as I had planned, I had to resolve the issue on my own and be creative.
I am so glad I was able to have this opportunity. When someone asks me what my most meaningful college experience was, I proudly say, “My summer of undergraduate research!”
Value of Internships
By Kyle Rainey
Hometown: Columbia, MO
Major: Information Technology
Favorite class: IT 222 – Multimedia Design
Favorite place to study: My apartment or the UMKC Library
Why you chose UMKC: Smaller class sizes
During the fall break of my sophomore year, I applied for an internship at Cerner, a healthcare information technology solutions company located in Kansas City. I was hired for the Kansas City Information Technology (KCIT) Apprenticeship Program before the start of the summer of 2015. This program is designed differently when compared to a normal internship. The KCIT program allowed me to work twenty hours a week during the school year and forty hours a week during the summer. My internship has allowed me the opportunity to put the knowledge I gained as a UMKC student in information technology to work – literally! Although, Cerner has also given me the opportunity to learn on the job. They allowed me to work on real projects and sit in on many meetings, further developing my skills as a professional in the field. Being a UMKC student has allowed me to have this experience and since many big companies come to UMKC looking for students to become interns, the connection was made easy.
After I graduate this fall, I plan to continue working for Cerner on my current team! Being in the KCIT program gives you the ability to continue with what you are doing after you graduate, if you were successful and choose to do so. Working at Cerner has taught me a lot in the last year and I continue to learn more every day. UMKC has prepared me to work full time right after graduation and I look forward to starting my career with Cerner as soon as that degree is in hand.