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Engineering | Undergraduate Research

James Oplinger, Travel Grant

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James Oplinger, Travel Grant

James Oplinger, an engineering student in The Polytechnic School, attended the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference in Seattle, Washington. The conference was a way for engineering educators and researchers to discuss ways in which the boundaries of engineering education can be advanced. After having completed two years of research under the mentorship of Professors Micah Lande and Shawn Jordan, James gave a research presentation on his work– titled, “Leadership Characteristics within the Making Community .

At the conference, James attended many events, including the keynote presentation, which featured presenters from Stanford, FIRST Robotics, and Harvey Mudd. The speakers addressed topics such as diversity, education, engineering in younger generations, and their own personal experiences. Listening to their presentations helped open James’ eyes to the bigger picture of his education.

“I can take my experiences and my drive and apply it to accomplish my goals, regardless of the task,” he explained.

He also had the opportunity to attend a workshop led by the University of Texas Austin and Texas Instruments. There, he got hands-on experience with new Beaglebone Black Board technology and different coding languages. He even got his very own Beaglebone to take home and help him with his research.

With so many engineers from so many different schools and industries, James’ favorite part about the conference was the networking aspect. He met people from a wide variety of research areas and discussed their findings and programs. The networking he did with Microchip was especially crucial in developing connections for his future graduate research. All of these interactions made James realize that his biggest interest is in industry.

“I believe that I can bridge the gap between development boards and embedded systems,” he said.

His current hope is that his research will help Makers and students turn their prototypes into actual entrepreneurial ventures.

Overall, James’ experience at the American Society for Engineering Education Conference and Exhibition was inspiring, and his only regret is that he didn’t bring business cards with him.

His advice for future conference-goers is, “Talk to people and you will be sure to find like-minded individuals with plenty of stories to tell.”

Going to a conference? Have research-related travel needs? Apply for the Undergraduate Research Travel Grant!


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