Q&A with Senior Tylee Oldham

Q: What is your major and year?

A: I am graduating in May with a B.S. in Materials Engineering and an undergraduate certificate in Aerospace Materials Systems Engineering.

Q: Where are you from?

A: I am from Hurricane, WV.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduation I have accepted a job offer as a Materials and Process Engineer with Northrop Grumman.

Q: What can you tell us about the project(s) you’re working on?

A: The project that I am currently working on are the hollow PAN-based carbon fibers. I perform tensile tests on the fibers to obtain the mechanical properties. After tensile testing a set of fibers with 5 different gauge lengths (10mm, 20mm, 30mm, 40mm, and 50mm), I complete compliance correction on the data to correct the modulus, strain at failure, and strain energy density.

Q: How did you get involved working at CAER?

A: I realized that I wanted to go into the aerospace industry early on throughout my time at UK. Knowing this, I started looking into what materials were being used for aerospace applications, specifically the materials that I found fascinating. After reading about some of the research topics that Dr. Weisenberger was focused on, I reached out to him regarding potential opportunities for me at CAER. I was very interested in working with carbon fibers, especially since I haven’t had much experience with this type of material prior to this position. After discussing the project and my potential role with Dr. Weisenberger, I knew that this would be such a great learning experience to further improve myself as a materials engineer.

Q: How have your experiences at CAER benefitted you?

A: It has furthered my knowledge in materials engineering and has made me excited for what is to come in my future career. Additionally, the experiences at CAER has equipped me with the essential laboratory skills and confidence that will contribute to my success in my future endeavors.

Q: What do you like about research in general?

A: Research has allowed me to gain hands-on experience that further my understanding of topics that have been discussed in the classroom. In addition to this, it has given me the opportunity to apply my knowledge to cutting edge science in state-of-the-art facilities.

Q: What would you suggest to other students or researchers who would like to work on similar projects? Major? Pathway? Interests?

A: I would suggest to look into some of the research that fascinates you. After finding some topics that you might be interested in, I suggest to reach out to professors who are working on similar research. I would also say to never be afraid to go for what you want and to always believe in yourself. In addition to this, I would advise future engineering students to take the chance and get involved in projects early on.

Q: What are some challenges you face as a researcher?

A: For the research that I am assisting with, there is a lot of patience and precision involved for mounting and testing fibers. There are also some important skills to have when being a full-time student and undergraduate research assistant. Some of these crucial skills include: time management, organization, and attention to detail. In addition to this, being passionate about the project is a huge aspect. Material characterization and testing is a huge demand especially within new production processes. I am truly thankful to be given this opportunity to further my knowledge on material testing and analysis.

Q: Who are some colleagues and mentors you’d like to thank and why?

A: I would like to personally thank Dr. Weisenberger, Ashley Morris, Kirk Norasak, and Leah Noble for their guidance throughout my time at CAER. Everyone at CAER has been so kind and willing to help during the two semesters that I have worked here.

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