Summer Interns Return with a World of Experiences

Caltech undergraduate students returned to campus this week, many after spending the summer working at companies in biotechnology, technology, and finance, among other fields. These students have had the opportunity to learn firsthand about the career opportunities and paths that may be available to them after graduation. They also had the chance to put Caltech's rigorous academic and problem-solving training to the test.

In the summer of 2015, nearly a third of returning sophomores, juniors, and seniors were placed in an internship position through Caltech's Summer Undergraduate Internship Program (SUIP). The program, run through the Institute's Career Development Center (CDC), helps connect current undergraduate students with a wide range of companies and businesses that can provide practical skills and work experiences that give the students an edge in the future job market.

Many undergraduates find paid summer internships through the CDC, says Lauren Stolper, the director of fellowships, advising, study abroad, and the CDC. The center organizes fall and winter career fairs and offers workshops related to finding internships; provides individual advising on internship options and conducting a job hunt for an internship; organizes interviews for students through its on-campus recruiting program; and provides web-based internship listings and company information through Techerlink, its online job-posting system.

Through the formal establishment of SUIP two years ago—thanks, in part, to the initiative of Craig SanPietro (BS '68, engineering; MS '69, mechanical engineering) and with seed money provided by him and three of his alumni friends and former Dabney House roommates, Peter Cross (BS '68, engineering), Eric Garen (BS '68, engineering), and Charles Zeller (BS '68, engineering)—the CDC has been able to dedicate even more time and attention to helping undergraduates secure these important positions, Stolper says.

"Through internships, students have the opportunity to learn more about the practical applications of their knowledge by contributing to ongoing projects under the guidance of professionals," says Aneesha Akram, a career counselor for internship development/advising, who oversees SUIP.

"Completing summer internships help undergraduates become competitive candidates for full-time positions," says Akram. "When it comes to recruiting for full-time positions, companies seek out candidates with previous internship experience. We have found that many large companies extend return offers and full-time conversions to students who previously interned with them."

The infographic at the above right provides a snapshot of Caltech undergraduate internships over this past summer. Students seeking internships for next summer can contact Akram or look at the CDC website for more information.

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New Courses for the 2015–16 School Year

The start of the 2015–2016 school year brings not only new freshmen and faculty, but also new courses.

Several new classes have been added in the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences. These include a course on Old English Literature, in which students will study literature written in the earliest form of the English language, commonly used in England from roughly 450 to 1100 AD. The new course will be taught by the Weisman Postdoctoral Instructor in Medieval British Literature, Benjamin Saltzman.

"When we speak and write in English, we rarely think about the paths the language took to get to where it is today with all its quirks and varieties: why is it that we say 'one mouse,' but 'two mice'? And if you can figure that out, then why do we say 'two houses'?" Saltzman says. "Once we take a closer look at this early stage of the language, we gain access to some extraordinary pieces of literature—from riddles to poems about war—and in the process we'll learn about some of the idiosyncrasies that have persisted in the modern form of the language."

The Division of Engineering and Applied Science is also introducing three new interdisciplinary mechanical engineering courses, one of which is the Mechanics of Soils. The class will be taught by Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering Domniki Asimaki, and will focus on the basic principles of stiffness, deformation, stress, and strength of soils, sands, clays, and silts.

"Soils are very heterogeneous materials. Some are plastic like soft clays, others are brittle like cemented sands, and others are purely frictional like granular media. More frequently we see some mix of these," Asimaki says. "The top few hundred meters of the earth's crust, where most of the infrastructure of modern cities is founded on, is roughly made of 'soils'. Thus, we want to make predictions about the deformation and failure of soils, such as consolidation from groundwater pumping, slope stability failures, foundation capacity of buildings, or liquefaction of sands—so called quick-sands." The class, she says, aims to provide an understanding of soil behavior from laboratory experiments and field observations, and to develop idealized predictive models that capture aspects of that behavior.

A new course in the medical engineering department, New Frontiers in Medical Technologies, will examine space technologies, instruments, and engineering techniques with respect to their current and potential applications in medicine. The course will allow students to interact with both Caltech researchers in medical engineering and scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

"The history of space exploration and its many spinoffs have taught us that many space technologies are very useful for on-earth medicine," says Shouleh Nikzad (PhD '90), a visiting associate in astrophysics and senior research scientist at JPL. She will teach the new course in the spring term.

Lori Dajose
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Thursday, October 1, 2015
Cahill, Hameetman Auditorium – Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics

Launch of Engineers Week at Caltech

Friday, October 23, 2015
Winnett Lounge – Winnett Student Center

Flat Space, Deep Learning: A Workshop by Eric Mazur

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Beckman Institute Auditorium – Beckman Institute

The Teaching and Learning Project, a National Photographic Essay on Higher Education Featuring Caltech

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 to Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Center for Student Services 360 (Workshop Space) – Center for Student Services

Guest Consultations on Teaching, with Chris Duffy

Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Dabney Hall, Lounge – Dabney Hall

Bringing Joy into Your Teaching: A Workshop by Chris Duffy

Monday, October 19, 2015
Guggenheim 101 (Lees-Kubota Lecture Hall) – Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory

The Future of Teaching and Learning at Caltech: An Innovation Showcase

Monday, October 19, 2015 to Friday, October 23, 2015

TeachWeek Caltech

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Keck Center

Engaging Students Beyond Their Field