PKG Social Impact Internships: Christina Ta (’22)
What’s in a light?
My name is Christina Ta, and I am a junior in Course 20 (Biological Engineering). This IAP, I had the opportunity to work with Solid State Lighting Services, Inc. to create educational material related to the lighting industry. As someone who has been working to improve educational equity amongst the underserved community since middle school, I am really grateful to have a project focused on educating the general public.
When interviewing for my internship position, my supervisor voiced his concerns about the lack of interest for the lighting industry in younger demographics. Before this internship, I didn’t think twice about the lighting around me. The only time I thought about lighting was when I needed a new lightbulb and I was deciding between a cheap or fancy bulb at Home Depot. Given this experience, I could see why there would be a lack of interest in younger demographics; lighting just isn’t talked about. To tackle this problem, I’ve been working on creating a story map to educate and intrigue more people about the lighting industry.
Part of the story map includes an interactive map for people to learn and understand the different careers surrounding solid state lighting. Through this internship, I was connected with working professionals from all sorts of jobs and backgrounds. One person was from Japan and pursued a PhD but ended up working in industry conducting both fundamental and applicative research on LEDs. Another person is running her own lab group conducting research on the effects of shift work and lighting on human physiology and chronic health. Another person had been running a family business for lighting distribution and participated in the wide acceptance of LEDs as we know now. Another person from France was working with NASA to study the effects of light, gravity, and air ventilation on plant growth in space.
All of these different interactions taught me that there is so much more to the lighting industry than just making an LED better and manufacturing it. It helped me realize that something most people take for granted in their day to day lives has complexity and many opportunities to explore. Even though I have been surrounded by STEM education since middle school, there were so many careers mentioned during my interactions with these people that I hadn’t thought about or realized had existed. I’m really excited to share this with younger students who might not have any STEM experience and are still figuring out what they are interested in and what they want to work on in the future. It’s one thing to learn about LEDs and how they work, but it’s another thing to learn that you can work with LEDs as an industrial researcher, medical researcher, business person, space and horticultural researcher, and so much more.
What I hope to share with people through this story map from my internship is that there are endless possibilities with technology. I hope younger people will see a “simple” LED and then see all the work being done on and with LEDs such as saving energy costs, improving human health, and growing plants in space. By seeing this, I hope that people will be inspired to explore different ways they can work on interesting and meaningful projects, whether it be related to the lighting industry or not. When applying for IAP internships, I was looking for something that would re-spark my awe in science since I’ve found myself in a rut lately, and getting to connect with so many people working on so many different things has definitely been inspirational; hopefully it’s inspirational to others and their career path also.
Want to learn more about the PKG Social Impact Internships Program? Visit our webpage to learn about ELO opportunities for Spring 2021, and stay tuned for information for summer 2021 postings!