Week 9: Tours, Twitter, and Titles

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Monday, August 2, 2021


Casey Roepke

Although the past nine weeks have been an incredible learning experience that I am unbelievably grateful for, one of the definite downsides has been trying to navigate working virtually. Computer fatigue is real, people! This week, however, was a break from the screen time; Lisa, my mentor, set me up with an in-person tour at NextFlex, one of the Manufacturing USA institutes located in San Jose, California, just under an hour’s drive from me. On Wednesday afternoon, after my mentoring meeting, I drove down to NextFlex and was given a tour by their Director of Fab Operations, Art Wall. NextFlex engages in public-private partnerships to promote innovations in advanced manufacturing of Flexible Hybrid Electronics. Flexible Hybrid Electronics are electronic devices printed on flexible plastics with applications ranging from health to information to military. I was able to tour the whole facility, getting a close look at the actual printing and testing rooms, and I also saw a printer that was at least twice as tall as I was. Even though some of the information went over my head, it was such an amazing experience to actually see tangible examples of what I have been learning about this summer, especially in person. I’m so grateful to the NextFlex team and to Lisa for making this happen!

Another huge highlight of this week: swag! Lisa sent me a NIST hat and shirt, which I will certainly be rocking proudly, and I received a box of goodies from the SPS team as well. Ah, the perks of being an SPS/NIST intern… 

Week 9 was packed to the brim with last-minute work to try to finish my final projects for this internship. I interviewed one last OAM Fellow on Monday, Dr. Gloria Weins, and finished writing my full draft of the communications article that I’ve been working on all summer. I’ve already done one round of edits after receiving feedback from Zara, and I hope to submit to the NIST editors in my last week. Then, later in the week, I turned my attention to my Manufacturing Day outreach project and prepared some social media plans to engage with students interested in manufacturing. I’m hoping to have some sort of Twitter roll-out of my virtual card game, but I’m still ironing out the details. 

In between other meetings, including a great discussion about how OAM can be more proactive, I was working on my final presentation for the SPS Colloquium. Lessons learned: titles on slides can be hard, graphics are useful, and 6 minutes is too short for me to talk about all the experiences I’ve had this summer!

Photo #1: Made it to NextFlex!

Photo #2: Showing off some swag — NIST hat & SPS's famous spherical cow!



Casey Roepke (she/her)