SPUR program gives JHU engineering students unique research opportunities at Applied Physics Lab

Applications being accepted now for 2016 summer internships

Lydia Carroll speaks with a poster session attendee

Image caption: Senior biomedical engineering major Lydia Carroll was a 2015 SPUR scholar.

Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

Lydia Carroll can't help smiling when discussing her experiences working as a SPUR scholar at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab last summer.

Minjea Jo at SPUR poster session

Image caption: Senior mechanical engineering major Minjea Jo

Image credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

"It was just so amazing," the senior biomedical engineering major from Washington, D.C., said. "I was astounded at the level of responsibility that they gave me in the first few weeks, especially considering I am only an undergraduate and I was working with this very expensive prosthetic arm. I can't tell you how grateful I am that I got this opportunity."

Carroll and other Whiting School of Engineering students who participated in the APL/WSE Summer Program in Undergraduate Research—also known as SPUR—during the summer of 2015 gathered in JHU's Glass Pavilion last week to kick off the SPUR 2016 application season with a poster, information session, and presentations by two 2015 SPUR scholars, including Carroll.

The School of Engineering and APL launched the prestigious and competitive summer internship program in 2014. It provides highly qualified engineering students with the opportunity to conduct research at the Applied Physics Laboratory, working on APL-sponsored projects. For the last two summers, School of Engineering interns have worked on projects in areas ranging from ballistic missile systems and computer vision to prosthetic limbs and secure mobile communications.

"We are so happy to be able to offer WSE students this tremendous opportunity to work closely with mentors at the Applied Physics Lab—an unparalleled organization—on a variety of projects," said Ed Schlesinger, dean of the Whiting School of Engineering, in an address to the gathering. "SPUR represents our commitment to integrating research and hands-on experiences into undergraduate education."

Minjea Jo, a senior mechanical engineering major and summer 1015 SPUR scholar, agrees: Working with mentors on real projects at APL was an incredible experience.

"It took some time to get comfortable, because you have a lot of responsibility and there are so many choices to make," said the Brookline, Massachusetts, native, who worked on a project that aimed to give scientists a better understanding of the cooling capability of propellers on rotorcraft. "But it was incredible overall. I learned so much and really grew as an engineer and scientist."

Gus Meisner, a freshman double major in mechanical engineering and the history of science and technology, was enthusiastic about the program after attending the session.

"I think it's a very exciting program, and I want to do it," said Meisner, a Baltimore native. "Right now, I find myself drawn to the prosthetic limb work, but I want to explore all the options. It's definitely something I want to be part of in the future."

Applications are being accepted now for the 2016 SPUR summer session.