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Intern profile: National Superconducting Cyclotron Lab

February  04, 2014

Abdul Rahman Merhi learned something new almost every day at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL).

Merhi, a junior from Lexington, Va., is majoring in engineering physics and computer science with a minor in mathematics. His internship took place on campus at Augustana and also at the NSCL at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.

At Augustana he helped to build a vacuum chamber that goes to 10^-5 torr (a measurement of pressure).

At the NSCL, his work was in hodoscope data analysis and segmented target design. A hodoscope is used to detect passing charged particles and determine their direction. Hodoscopes are made up of segments. The combination of which segments record a particle is then used to show the particle's trajectory.

Merhi said he designed a new segmented target that will replace the old passive target used at the NSCL.  He plans to present a poster about the segmented target design at the National Nuclear Physics conference in Virginia. 

"Augustana courses gave me a very good push in how to deal with the new information that I was facing," he said. "Basically all of the data analysis was based on the modern physics class that I took my sophomore year.

"Also, I used Autodesk Inventor (3D computer-aided design software) to design the new segmented target which I learned how to use from the engineering design class that I took with Dr. Joshua Dyer my sophomore year as well."

The internship didn't change his career plans: graduate school in mechanical or aerospace engineering. "But now I have a very better idea of what research is and what will be waiting for me in a grad school," he said.

"I was just more impressed of how cool the things we were doing are. Almost every day I learned a new skill; how to deal with things, how to manage my time, how to become more productive, how to seek certain answer and solutions, etc."

He recommend this internship to other students. "It will prepare you to do more research and go to a grad school," he said, adding, "Plus it would look awesome on your resume."