Mymoon is going into his third year as a Materials Science and Engineering student at McMaster. This summer he had the opportunity to work as an intern at Nuclear Operations & Facilities. In the interview below, Mymoon talks about the most memorable experiences of his internship, discusses his role as Science Lead for the McMaster Mars Rover Team, and shares some advice that he believes can help aspiring scientists achieve their goals.
Tell us about your internship at NO&F! Which facilities have you been working in this summer?
I’ve been working in the Accelerator Laboratory. Primarily, my job involves working on the Tandem Particle Accelerator, which we’ve been repairing. The accelerator hasn’t been in use due to COVID-19, so we’ve been working on getting it up and running so that we can do tests with it.
I’ve also been spending time in the Centre for Advanced Nuclear Systems (CANS), where I’ve been working at the hot cells.
Can you tell us about a cool project you’ve been working on this summer?
I’ve been helping to build a Faraday cage. McMaster has a Variable Positron Beam, which is a high-voltage device, so for safety reasons we have to build a metallic cage around it. That way, if any sparks fly off, the Faraday cage will act as a shield. I helped to research and source materials for the cage, and I’m helping to design and build it.
What has been the most valuable aspect of your internship? What new skills and knowledge has your internship provided you with?
I’ve been able to learn a lot about different technologies, and I’ve gotten the opportunity to talk to a lot of scientists at NO&F. I’ve been working with the Manager of Accelerator Facilities, Scott McMaster. I’ve also been working with Justin Bennet and Tony Marrone. Justin is a particle accelerator engineer, and Tony is a hot cell technician. They have such a wealth of knowledge, and they always reinforce the idea that the best way to learn is to make mistakes and to try new things.
I’ve also been talking to Dr. Shahram Shirani about the work he does with p-n junctions, which is a materials science problem, and with Zhilin Peng, who works as a research engineer with the SEM/FIB microscope at CANS. I’ve been expanding my breadth of knowledge about what research possibilities lie within nuclear materials, and I’ve been learning about how flexible the Materials Science and Engineering degree is.
Was there something useful or interesting that you learned during your internship that you didn’t expect to learn?
I’ve learned a lot about building things during my internship, which I was not expecting. I’ve been using my problem-solving skills to help repair equipment and electronics in the labs. I’ve also had the opportunity to learn how to use equipment in the wood shop and machine shop.
Can you tell us about your role in McMaster Mars Rover?
I’m the Science Lead of the McMaster Mars Rover Team. Our team has been working to build a Mars Rover. The rover isn’t space-grade, but it does everything else that a rover is expected to do, and we’re planning on entering it in the Canadian International Rover Rally. As Science Lead, I’ve been leading the team that builds the verification of life experiments. We do things like Bradford reagents and experiments for determining soil composition.
This fall, we’re planning on driving the rover around campus. As students are coming back to campus, or coming to campus for the first time, they’re hopefully going to see that science is a pretty big aspect of McMaster.
Have you received any advice that has helped you achieve your goals? If so, how has this advice helped you?
I came across this YouTube video of a famous scientist, Richard Feynman, talking about his career. Feynman believed there are no “miracle people” who have a natural ability to understand physics. He talked about how he isn’t naturally smart; he studied and worked hard, and he was able to redefine science all because of his hard work. His words were the confidence-booster I needed.
I never had the top grades in high school, and I’m still not the smartest person in the room, but I believe that being a hard-working person and caring about what you do will help you achieve your goals. I’m always going to give everything a chance. This optimism has helped me do so many interesting things. I do high school outreach as part of McMaster Mars Rover, and I always give students this advice because I wish someone had given it to me when I was younger.
What are some accomplishments that you are proud of?
I’m really proud of the work we’ve been doing on the Faraday cage. It’s not built yet, but I will hopefully be coming back to help build it.
I’m also proud of the research I’ve done on the side. I published a conference paper recently. It was great to have support from Dr. Bosco Yu, who walked me through the process of publishing a paper. Dr. Bosco was an amazing advisor!
I’m also excited to see our rover driving around campus and doing cool things. We’ve been working on the rover for two years now, so that will be a major accomplishment that’s been a long time coming.
Where do you hope to see yourself in the next few years?
I hope to pursue a PhD in materials science, chemistry, or physics. I really want to learn about the materials that make up our world, and about what physical properties of these materials we can manipulate for different applications.
Can you tell us about a fun hobby you have?
I’m a big camper! I love camping and hiking.
You can find Mymoon on LinkedIn.