During the past summer vacation, ZJUI sophomores-to-be participated in a very rare lab internship program. They were divided into groups, each with 3 to 5 students. Every group was assigned to a lab (of a relevant discipline) on Ququan Campus for an internship of 1 to 3 weeks. The professors at the labs were in charge of advising, and the seniors provided assistance.
Why is this internship program rare? Firstly, the program was organized by ZJUI Dean Prof. LiErping to expand the students’ scope of knowledge, and to provide some reference for their future research. Dean Li selected a number of labs on Yuquan Campus for the internship, which enabled the students to experience their graduate life in advance. It is not common that a university dean arranged internship in labs for sophomores-to-be. It’s extremely lucky for the students to be part of the program in the second year.
The program consisted of two parts. The first part was to visit the labs. The author’s group, of which Dean Li was in charge, had the pleasure to visit 6 labs of College of Information Science & Electronic Engineering on Yuquan Campus----3D Multi-media Information System and Chip Lab, Machine Vision and Navigation Lab, Data Science and Engineering Research Center, ISEE High-Frequency & High-Speed Electron Lab, Micro-Nanofabrication Superclean Lab, and Video and Image Processing Lab. These labs are related to industrial and civil applications, or future technological breakthroughs. They are high-end but mysterious, like those in films. It was rather shocking to be in the Lab, where the students visualized the glorious history that the mankind leveraged wisdom to understand the Nature and make inventions.
Among the 6 labs that the author visited, Micro-Nanofabrication Superclean Lab was the most impressive. The 4 members of the author’s group in superclean uniform entered the Lab, where they met two seniors covered by superclean uniforms, with only eyes visible to others. The professor there informed the visitors that the Lab had extremely high requirements for product precision, and no dust or carelessness was tolerated.
After the visit, the second part was to do projects. Each group partnered with seniors, who arranged project contents, assigned tasks, and required students to complete the tasks within the specified time limit. Like the dazzling lab names, the projects were also kaleidoscopic, including the research into the Wi-Fi module of Android cell phone, the study of graphene materials, writing Android programs to control small vehicles, and even the research projects related to AI. Each project centered on the knowledge in these fields, and a topic fit for freshmen was specified for theoretical learning and practical operations.
For example, the author was at Nano Radio-Frequency Lab that Dean Li Erping was in charge of. Three graduates-to-be guided the students to do a project related to microstrip line, which mainly involved the research into its impendance property. Through ADS system simulation and hands-on operation of vector network analyzer (VNA), we acquired some knowledge of the impendance property of microstrip lines. Impendance is generally complex impendance, which consists of electric resistance and reactance. In ADS simulation, when the electric resistance was set at zero, and the length of the microstrip lines was half of the signal wavelength, it was the matching of the microstrip lines. Based on theories, we measured the 4 microstrip lines with VNA, and determined the status of the microstrip lines through the results of Smith chart and line chart. Thus, the students deepened their understanding of the relevant concepts, and became more skilled in using the instruments. As the knowledge related to microstrip lines was new to the students, they had to consult some books that were not used in the freshman year, such as Electromagnetics and Linear Algebra, to develop some preliminary knowledge.
After completing the project, the students made presentations on the lab internship to Dean Li and three seniors, demonstrating the knowledge related to the microstrip line acquired during the 3 weeks, and shared learning life experiences, such as ideas about the visit to the labs, gratitude to the seniors for patiently answering questions, and even admirations for the foods at the canteen on Yuquan Campus……Dean Li, after listening to the presentations, highly praised the students for acquiring novel knowledge through autonomous learning and consulting the seniors, and expressed the hope that they could know more about the graduate life to provide reference for future planning. The 4 members in the group all agreed that this was a fruitful internship, during which they not only acquired professional knowledge, but came to know the seniors of the relevant disciplines, and strengthened the friendship among group members.
The 4 members of the group have gained a lot from this internship. This is also true for the students in other groups.
The 2 weeks for lab internship is a long time, but flies. I feel lucky to work under the guidance of Prof. Zhang and Mr. Hua on artificial intelligence, which can be considered today’s most popular field of study. Due to the lack of specialized knowledge, we have only touched upon some basics. But for Liu Ke and me, the internship has opened a gate to a new world. We will keep this internship in our memory. Once again, we would like to thank Prof. Zhang Honggang and Mr. Hua Yuxiu.
Our group’s project is about quantum computing, which is a bit theoretical. Under the guidance of Prof. Zhao and Prof. Chen, through the 20-day learning, we have come to know the potential of the emerging discipline quantum computing and its research status quo, understood its basic principles, and meanwhile been aware that we lack in the knowledge on basic theories. Advanced linear algebra, quantum mechanics and theory of probability have all been beyond us at the moment. Only by enhancing our self teaching ability and fully utilizing time can we acquire knowledge on the frontier developments in science and technology.
As a freshman, I am exceptionally honored to spend 10 days at Prof. Ma Hao’s lab as an intern. Our small project was about wireless charging. What we received was a project name and some literature provided by the professor. I and two other group members suddenly felt uneasy, just like walking into an unknown forest and not knowing where to go. As Prof. Ma said, this is exactly the most important thing that we need to learn during this internship. That is, the ability to making inquiries. When nothing or little is known, how can we work out questions, identify directions, make reasonable guesses and prove them? It is safe to say that this way of making scientific inquiries has benefited us greatly.
Therefore, with the help of Cao Pengju, we gradually eliminated the initial confusion. From computer fitting to mockup building, we not only mastered the basic electric welding knowledge, but also opened the gate to the magical wireless charging. Prior to the presentations on the last day, we suddenly realized that many other questions remained to be answered. It is also the first time that we experienced the enthusiasm for research. Although this enthusiasm might be insignificant, we were very joyful. Just think of those great scientists. Who was not inspired by such enthusiasm and eventually discovered a ray of light amid darkness?
The 3-week lab internship at Yuquan Campus is very fruitful for us. Firstly, we have developed some basic understanding of a lab. Secondly, we have become aware of the self teaching ability and the exploratory spirit that a graduate student should have. At the lab, the supervisor did not give exercises as in the classroom. Instead, he gave us an open question, which had more than one solution. The real meaning of research often lies in finding solutions for small problems during the course of doing research. This would require us to have a critical spirit and an extensive knowledge base. To meet the latter requirement, we need to develop efficient self teaching ability. At the lab, one might have learned the knowledge earlier than the other, or might be a master in one’s own special field. No one could acquire all the required knowledge. Therefore, we often teach ourselves by reading specialized books in the process of making experiments.
Therefore, we need to develop these two abilities in the remaining undergraduate years. The lab internship has laid a solid foundation for our future learning.
Through the summer internship program, the students have increased awareness of their majors, developed a comprehensive understanding of lab work, and created long-term ideas about their career plans. Xunzi, an ancient Chinese philosopher once said, “Use the near to know the far; use the one to know the ten thousand; use the subtle to know the brilliant.” The path taken by the seniors in the past is the path that the ZJUI students are taking today. The ZJUI students have come to know via the seniors’ stories the path that they are to take. They are bound to lead a better life in the remaining undergraduate years through the internship of about 20 days.
Author: Li Heyuan
Photo: Wu Xihang, Ma Hanzhi, Chen Yifan
Xing Jiaqi, Li Heyuan, Chen Haonan