Pioneer Scholar Spotlight: Nidhi

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“I learned from Pioneer how to do research right!” Pioneer Scholar Nidhi

Pioneer Scholar Nidhi, from Bangalore, India, had two goals when she applied to participate in her Pioneer Research Program. She was hoping the Pioneer program would help her figure out what she wanted to study in college, and she wanted to assure herself that she would be able to handle college level work. On both fronts, she was successful.

Nidhi’s interests are in the science-oriented STEM subjects, so the research fields she included in her application were in areas such as engineering, math, and chemistry. She was happy to be placed in her first choice of engineering, with a research concentration in electronics. She enjoyed the experience so much that she intends to continue to study electronical engineering in college. That accomplished Nidhi’s first goal.

Her second goal was accomplished as well. Through the process of conducting undergraduate-level research with the guidance of a college professor and collaboration with her international cohort of peers, Nidhi learned that she was in fact capable of doing that level of work. What’s more, although there were challenges, she enjoyed the process.

Among the valuable skills that Nidhi learned from her Pioneer Research Program, two stand out: knowing when to ask for help, and recognizing the value of collaboration.

Nidhi’s Pioneer Research Program was a little unusual. Rather than doing research on some existing topic or application, or developing a theoretical answer to a research question, the members of Nidhi’s cohort first created an original device, and then wrote their papers about what they had done. Not surprisingly, this hands-on work didn’t always go smoothly. Problems with understanding how to do the necessary programming, and problems with a malfunctioning part of her device, helped Nidhi learn when to ask her professor for help.

Once she had done the work of building her device, Nidhi needed to learn how to write about it in accepted academic form. In the process, she learned “how to do research right.” She became familiar with scholarly research tools, and how to discern which materials come from reputable sources. When it came time to do the actual writing, Nidhi turned to the Pioneer Writing Center for help. First, she says, she learned writing skills, including the difference between American and British English. Then she learned how to construct an academic paper.

One of Nidhi’s best memories of her experience in the Pioneer Research Program is the collaboration with her international peers from China, Turkey, and Tunisia. “I learned how to work with people from different countries,” she said. As they discussed their research projects, she learned about the cultural differences and issues that led her peers to decide on devices to build that would address needs in their home countries. And when they had to break into two groups to present their work to their peers, she had first-hand experience of the difficulties of in-person collaboration across multiple time zones.

Nidhi hopes to continue her studies in electronical engineering at the University of Toronto in Canada. She will move on to college knowing she already has experience in how to design new products that aim to solve problems and fill needs in our society.

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