JARED Lewis was eager to find a new job after working part-time at a fast food restaurant during his first year of university in Boulder, Colorado, towards the end of 2019.

An opportunity came through much quicker than he thought.

The 20-year-old Kingston native, who is a third-year mechanical engineering student at University of Colorado, got a job as a lab assistant in January 2020.

Lewis has been doing that job at the Colorado Shared Instrumentation in Nanofabrication and Characterization (COSINC) open-research facility within the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

“I actually found the position listed on the job board online, made available to students at my school. I saw this job and it seemed very interesting. You are basically the first line of contact for all the people who might need assistance,” he told Career & Education.

Lewis said he works in the lab for three to five hours per day.

Detailing his duties, he said, “A lot of our focus in the lab would include bringing our tools up to operational status, where we get reproducible results each time because that is very important. We also spend a lot of time on tool maintenance, and also making sure chemicals and material are restocked and available for users.”

He said the most important part of his job is networking with established engineers.

“The ability to grow my network within the space is great. It includes access to different types of engineers so I can keep in contact with lots of electrical engineers, chemical engineers and biomedical engineers. There is a lot of connections to be made, just being in this position where I am interacting with a lot of people,” he said.

But although he enjoys being a lab assistant, there are times when the work gets a bit challenging.

“That happens when we need to get the tools working by a certain time or we are just under a lot of pressure from the users to have things working because at the end of the day, they are paying us for a service, so we have to be able to provide that when its required. So if we have a tool that's unavailable for an extended period of time, it starts to get a little aggravating,” he said.

Lewis said he will continue to apply the lessons learnt during his lab duties, in his classes.

“Most of my classes are becoming more of an experience as I would have seen some of the things first hand in my part-time job. Being able to get exposed to this type of research is like a pre-introduction in my field compared to someone who is getting that kind of access and awareness when they start that job after graduating. Being able to do this in my formative years is definitely a great opportunity,” said Lewis.

Jared Lewis doing his job asa lab assistant at the ColoradoShared Instrumentationin Nanofabrication andCharacterization (COSINC) openresearch facility.(Photos: University of ColoradoBoulder)
BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON Career & Education reporter hutchinsonb@jamaicaobserver.com

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