Much More than Just a Degree
Leah Janowski graduated from Materials Science and Engineering in May 2012. She chose polymers and biomaterials for her emphasis area, yet her overall experience ultimately turned out much broader than this. In addition to classes Leah gained experience in Prof. John Perepezko’s group, helping set up experiments on high-temperature molybdenum alloys. Leah took senior project with Professor Xudong Wang and graduate student Matt Starr studying photodeposition of silver on piezoelectric materials. Leah also participated in the student organizations Materials Advantage/ASM and AFS. She was the treasurer for both during Fall 2011-Spring 2012.
One of her most memorable experiences was Engineering EXPO, a showcase of engineering exhibits held every other year for the public. She helped to run the Materials Carnival with two other classmates. Using liquid nitrogen, cream, and sugar they made ice cream for visiting students while teaching about the science behind it. Her group won one of the People's Choice awards and split a nice $500 reward.
Away from campus, Leah recalls a field trip to Rexnord in Milwaukee, where she saw casting and processing of gigantic, 50 foot diameter, metal gears. She calls the experience “outrageous.” A trip to Skana Aluminum was interesting because they sent large sheets of aluminum on a track of rolls to be machined down. “It was like watching a surfboard go flying back and forth.” A company employee made the touring group homemade pizza for lunch and gifted them company hats, a nice touch.
Although Leah’s dad was a UW graduate in Metallurgy – the department before it became MS&E – Leah didn’t initially intend to go into Materials. Instead, she was initially interested in Biomedical Engineering, more specifically biomaterials. But an engineering advisor mentioned how close and small the MS&E department is. Leah liked that she would get to know all of her classmates and professors. Through Prof. Perepezko she met a researcher from Luvata, which led to an informal internship and ultimately a job after graduation.
Leah says one of the most interesting courses she took was Philosophy 243 – Ethics in Business, chosen to satisfy her Engineering and Society elective. The dilemmas posed in class were often very open-ended – “one could argue either direction, very different from the yes/no in engineering,” she says. Leah also especially liked the polymer classes in Mechanical Engineering, ME 417 and ME 418. She recalls how incredibly helpful Prof. Tim Oswald’s class was. Through the emphasis elective biology courses, Leah was also able to obtain a Biology Certificate in Engineering.