Begin researching in your field within your first two years

Getting experience in your field is one of the most valuable parts of your education—and it can start right away. Your engineering prof will connect you with summer research, internships, and even job opportunities.


  •   Author: Michal Rubingh
  •   Published: October 2, 2019
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Calvin’s size makes it the ideal place for professors to get to know you individually—and to connect you to a world of opportunities. Civil and environmental engineering student Michelle Widjanarko has experienced this firsthand.

This summer, Michelle is doing research in Indonesia, her home country, with engineering professor Matthew Heun.

“Professor Heun and I are researching primary energy,” Michelle explained. “We’re tracking energy from its primary state, basically energy you get from the ground, to its final useful state, like lighting and heat. We’re doing that for all of Indonesia.”

This opportunity came about because Michelle was willing to talk to her professor after class. She was interested in doing research, so she asked Professor Heun what kind of research he was working on.

“He told me to come up with a list of things I was interested in,” Michelle recounted.

They found a common interest in sustainability, and Michelle was the perfect candidate for research.

“Professor Heun wants to track how we’re using energy now to be able to predict how we can take a more sustainable approach in the future,” Michelle outlined. “That’s what research is all about. You do it because you know it’s going to lead to something.”

Michelle’s research isn’t just valuable for Professor Heun. It’s also an opportunity for Michelle to explore what engineers are doing in the real world. And it’s not uncommon for Calvin students to do this kind of research within their first two years of college.

“A lot of people doing research are sophomores,” Michelle remarked. She discovered that the key to getting this kind of opportunity was taking initiative.

“After my first year, I was disappointed by the small steps I was taking. I wasn’t making connections with professors or doing research projects,” Michelle reflected. “I came into my second year with more determination.”

That determination brought about not only Michelle’s summer research but also a leadership position in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and opportunities to shadow professional engineers.

Preparing for an engineering career requires intentionality, but you won’t be alone. Your professors are here to equip you on each new step you take.

  •   Author: Michal Rubingh
  •   Published: October 2, 2019

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