Engineering Intern Prepares for Eclipse Research

Alyssa Boll, HAO Eclipse Research Intern from CO School of Mines

What influenced you to pursue a career in engineering?

I pursued a career in engineering out of fascination. I have never outgrown the stage of asking “why” when confronted with new topics or ideas, and felt myself naturally drawn to engineering. With encouragement from my family, I found my place at Colorado School of Mines in the EECS department. I’m excited to explore more of the field!

What will you be doing as an intern, why did it interest you, and what excites you the most regarding your work at NCAR this summer? (Please introduce what you do as well.)

I will be working on the Total Solar Eclipse Camera Project, coding for the test of a camera during the total solar eclipse this August. I am excited to learn LabVIEW and apply engineering skills to a research team. My interest in this project is a piece of my father’s legacy; I am the daughter of an astrophysics major who engrained in me from a young age to love the sky. Working at NCAR this summer allows me to combine my skill set and my hobbies in a research-oriented environment – I am excited to work and learn as an engineer and researcher!

Who are you outside of work?

While life as a student isn’t very forgiving with free time, I have diverse hobbies outside of my classes. I love music, illustration, and reading, especially Tolkien’s works. On the more active side, I hike in the foothills and am involved with my campus’ karate club. I have been skydiving several times, and hope to become licensed to jump on my own one day!

What has been your favorite work-related experience?

My father was very interested in fractals, especially the Mandelbrot set. When I was younger, we had framed pictures of his 1990’s computer-generated fractal images, and I was fascinated by the idea of math creating such gorgeous art. That memory always set STEM apart in my mind as both beautiful and practical.

The Power of One: If you could thank only one person for academic or career support, who would it be?

I am so, so grateful for the encouragement of my high school AP calculus teacher, Ron Lamb. He humored my countless questions in his office hours and always made time for helping me with the material beyond the scope of the class. He helped me see the beauty and the enjoyment in math, beyond just calculations and applications. I was blessed to have such a wonderful mentor that saw my passion and helped me grow; he was one of the most influential people in guiding me towards the engineering field.

What advice do you have for educators interested in making an impact in educating and advancing STEM fields, especially within underrepresented groups.

Inspire students’ curiosity. Educators determine our first impressions of many fields, and our experiences in a single class sometimes determine the trajectory of our careers. Passion and excitement from educators is the most engaging tool, and it’s contagious.

One-minute mentor

What advice would you offer to someone interested in a career in STEM?

To anyone considering engineering, I’d ask them to carefully study their motives. Too often, I see my peers in the field chasing a paycheck or a prestigious career; the more important goal should be finding a field that you fall in love with. There is a place in STEM for anyone who is willing to rise to the challenge. Raw intelligence or problem solving abilities will only get you part way, but in the end, it’s fascination with your field and relating it to your identity and personality that makes it worthwhile.

Alyssa Boll, HAO Eclipse Research Intern from CO School of Mines

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