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Credit: D. Miller Derek Miller outside of NASA Glenn Research Center. ceramic fiber felts, I was able to fabricate a very low density, low thermal conductivity, and high-temperature flexible insulation. This insulation was intended as a primary heat-resistant layer in a multilayer stack containing several other specialized flexible materials. The stack forms an “inflatable decelerator” that deploys from a canister before atmospheric reentry to protect the vehicle from intense heat. Because I was the first student to work on this project, my mentor relied on me to guide the project forward, a process opposite to every other job I had ever held. My confidence and abilities grew quickly as a result of these responsibilities. I even presented our new research ideas to the project leader of the Venus Lander Flagship Mission. I never imagined that I could be a part of such a grand challenge, and it kept me coming back for more. On a personal level, I met great friends at NASA Glenn. We toured NASA labs together, explored the city together, and often got into heated academic arguments that were entirely too scientific for the local bar. But we all had the same appreciation for really big problems and the same desire to be a part of solving small pieces of those problems. I came away from these experiences with new lifelong friends, possible future colleagues, and an optimistic look at some of the people that will be driving the future of technological advancements. Angle J. Credit:I believe in space technology research because it is the heart and soul of inspiration in every classroom vying for the attention of young, wandering minds, as it did mine. Information is now gained so easily and freely that many young people are reluctant to tackle hard problems or unanswerable questions. I see the bright lights of our new phones drowning out the stars, because we tend to look down rather than up. But phones do not inspire young minds—rockets do. My time at NASA Glenn changed the way I perceive the world around me. The hardest problems are those most worth doing, which is an attitude I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Derek Miller is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in materials science and engineering at Ohio State University. He holds a NASA Space Technology research fellowship and was the 2013 chair of PCSA. n Japan research experience— A study in science and attitude By Jesse Angle I had always wanted to visit Japan— ride the famed bullet trains, eat real Japanese sushi, see the centuries-old architecture, experience the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, and, above all, get a glimpse of the legendary Japanese work ethic. So when the opportunity presented itself, I spent nine of the most amazing weeks of my life in Japan. So how did I get there? During graduate school at the University of California, Irvine, my advisor Martha Mecartney encouraged me to look into the National Science Foundation East Asian Summer Pacific Institute (NSF EASPI) program. The program has numerous requirements, but the most important one is to find a host researcher who is willing to supervise your work. Keeping this in mind, I approached Yuichi Ikuhara after hearing his talk at a Gordon Research Conference and asked him to host me through NSF EASPI. He agreed, I applied, and, to my delight, I was selected. Ikuhara’s research lab is part of the Institute for Engineering Innovation at the University of Tokyo. The institute is a world leader in crystal interface analysis via high-resolution and scanning transmission electron microscopy. My summer research project focused on determining the slip-system in mullite through in-situ transmission electron microscopy indentation, a technique pioneered by Ikuhara’s group. Eita Tochigi and Shin Kondo supervised me and defined my experience with their time, patience, and kindness. Adapting to the demanding lab work schedule was my biggest challenge. Until that summer, I had always thought of myself as a hard worker. Students, postdocs, and professors alike worked long and demanding hours, seven days a week, even occasionally sleeping in their office or at their desk. But never did I interpret this ethic in a negative light. These researchers did not work hard solely to meet a deadline or because of pressure from a superior— a clear sense of dedication and selfachievement overwhelming drove their actions. This attitude toward research had a bigger impact on my views about how science should be approached than the outcome of my project. In addition to the time spent working in Ikuhara’s lab, I was invited to spend the day with Teruyasu Mizoguchi, a professor at the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo. During my visit, Mizoguchi’s Jesse Angle at the entrance to the Narita Temple Complex on his first day in Japan. American Ceramic Society Bulletin, Vol. 93, No. 5 | www.ceramics.org 31


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