Syed and Emmanuel
Syed Ayaz, left, and Emmanuel Ongaro Ramogi are enthused about the 10-week CIPTA program.
Courtesy FTPP

Participation in the 10-week Corporate Internship Plasma Training in Alabama (CIPTA) has positively influenced their future career paths, say two students who spent the summer with mentors in the program.

Sponsored by the Future Technologies & enabling Plasma Processes (FTPP) project, CIPTA provides undergraduate and graduate students in a broad spectrum of disciplines at FTPP partner institutions with quality experiences in plasma technology applications and allows them to establish connections with industry and university professionals.

Managed at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), the FTPP project is funded by a $20 million grant from the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research at the National Science Foundation. FTPP aims to transition plasma research into agricultural, manufacturing, space science, space weather prediction and other applications, and establish a plasma workforce in Alabama.

“The internship experience assisted in advancing my goals towards being a research engineer,” says Emmanuel Ongaro Ramogi, a graduate student in mechanical engineering at The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Originally from Kenya, Ramogi’s internship was at Evonik Birmingham Laboratories and his mentors were Dr. Bernabe Tucker and Dr. Jian-Feng Zhang.

“While at Evonik, I was involved in a lot of quantitative analysis, which has honed my analytical skills,” Ramogi says.

“After working in the corporate environment, I have come to appreciate the role that research plays, not only in academia but also in industry,” he says. “I clearly saw this when I did market research on biodegradable polymers and cold plasma technology, which was key in my project.”

Syed Ayaz also found the experience enriching. A doctoral candidate in space science at UAH, Ayaz interned at UAH’s Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR) with mentors Dr. Vladimir Kolobov and Dr. Jun-Chieh Wang.

“Through this remarkable opportunity, I delved deep into the realm of plasma training, an exhilarating journey that unfolded against the vibrant backdrop of Alabama's innovation landscape,” says Ayaz, who is originally from Waziristan, Pakistan.

“My unwavering aspiration is to emerge as a dynamic force in the realm of low-temperature plasma dielectric barrier discharge phenomena by seamlessly transitioning into the roles of a research scientist and engineer,” Ayaz says.

“During a transformative internship, I immersed myself in a world of captivating discoveries, acquiring the essential nuances and working principles that underscore this fascinating domain,” he says. “This immersive experience has etched a profound impact on the trajectory of my ambitions, serving as a pivotal stepping stone toward my enduring career goals.”

At Evonik, Ramogi worked on material characterization of four different biodegradable polymers.

“After 3D printing the needed samples for each polymer, they were placed in a plasma chamber in order to modify their surface properties. Contact angle measurement was then used as a characterization method for the modified surfaces,” he says.

“While at Evonik, I also got involved in other small projects within the department that involved extrusion molding.”

Ramogi says his most memorable experiences came from the interactions he had with his colleagues at Evonik.

“They made me feel like an equal member of the team and gave me all the support needed to work on my project,” he says. “Some of the equipment I needed required training, for which my colleagues were glad to assist. My mentors were particularly helpful up until the last day of the internship program.”

At CSPAR, Ayaz explored the intricate workings of low-temperature dielectric barrier discharge phenomena (DBD), an experience he says immersed him in a journey through the essential physical processes involved.

“From dissecting the fundamental principles to conducting intricate evaluations, I delved deep into the realm of plasma dynamics, electric fields and intricate interactions,” says Ayaz. “The culmination of these endeavors has equipped me with a profound understanding of the complex interplay within low-temperature DBD, enriching my knowledge base and nurturing my passion for advancing scientific inquiry.”

Ramogi says CIPTA “is an awesome program that linked me to the industry, and I greatly recommend it for others.”

Ayaz also recommends participating in CIPTA to physics enthusiasts.

“My personal experience within CIPTA was nothing short of transformative, providing an immersive and enriching environment that fostered both academic growth and hands-on learning,” he says. “For those who share an affinity for unraveling the mysteries of physics, CIPTA offers an invaluable platform, not only to learn but also to immerse oneself in real-world applications.”

The program's unique blend of cutting-edge insights and practical experience sets the stage for a truly remarkable journey of discovery, Ayaz says.

“As someone who has been profoundly impacted by CIPTA, I wholeheartedly extend my endorsement to fellow physics students who are ready to embark on a transformative educational voyage.”