Summer work experience offers taste of research world
Second-year student Andrew McIntyre jumped into the international research world through a unique opportunity offered by Queen’s Summer Work Experience Program (SWEP) this summer.
Mr. McIntyre worked with Simon Hesp (Chemistry) testing asphalt samples, organizing data and developing his own tests. The research is essential for determining whether asphalt will crack prematurely, and how to avoid the continuous reconstruction of roads.
During the placement, Mr. McIntyre (Engineering Physics) and graduate student Senthil Kumar (Chemistry) travelled to Mexico City with Dr. Hesp to attend a conference hosted by the Mexican Association of Road Engineers. Mr. McIntyre gave a presentation at the conference on the group’s research findings.
“This experience has connected what I’ve been doing in the classroom to what actually happens in the real world,” says Mr. McIntyre. “It was a learning experience – I went from not knowing what a research job was like to getting a taste of it. I got to develop my own theories and see where the research ends – with a finished project and presentation.”
Mr. McIntyre heard about the SWEP opportunity from one of his professors, William Newstead (Chemistry), who mentioned Dr. Hesp hires first-year students to work for him every summer.
“I try to provide the students working for me during the summer an opportunity to present their results at either a conference or informal meeting with research sponsors,” says Dr. Hesp. “The experience gives them direct exposure to leading voices in the field and the chance to develop their own presentation and networking skills.”
The group spent three days in Mexico – one full day at the conference and another day touring cultural sites, including the impressive Teotihuacán archaeological complex northeast of Mexico City.