Each year, IMDEA Materials Institute offers three-month Research Initiation Fellowships, or Summer Scholarships, to final year master’s and undergraduate students studying courses related to engineering and materials science. Today, we’re getting to know one of this year’s fellows, Enrique Dios Lázaro.
Question: First of all, Enrique, can you please introduce yourself?
Reply: Sure. I’m Enrique Dios, a 21-year-old student from Galicia, currently finishing my degree in Aerospace Engineering at Carlos III University in Madrid.
Question: Where does your interest in aerospace engineering come from?
Reply: My interest in engineering has been with me for as long as I can remember. Mechanisms and machines around me have always caught my attention, and the more I learned about physics and mathematics, the more certain I was that this was my field. I chose aerospace engineering after an experience at NASA’s Johnson Space Center when I was 15, and since then, I studied to meet the entry requirements for the degree.
Question: How and why did you choose to do a Research Internship Fellowship (RIF) at the IMDEA Materials Institute?
Reply: I was looking for a place to do my company internship, and through networks, I came across the IMDEA Materials Institute’s call for research initiation scholarships. While I considered various alternatives, I decided on IMDEA to experience research from the inside. During high school, I participated in various projects and scientific fairs, and I missed this entire process of research, results, and dissemination during my degree.
Question: How has your experience been so far as a RIF at the Institute?
Reply: The experience as an initiation fellow at the institute has been exceptional. The opportunity to work on these types of projects and facilities is something that must be taken advantage of, but what’s even more valuable is being able to do so surrounded by such friendly and experienced people. Here, I’m not just a student but another researcher: to the same extent that my supervisors and colleagues teach me, I’m given the freedom to work on my contributions independently. Such trust isn’t as common during company internships, and it’s truly appreciated.
Question: Can you explain what your work and your day-to-day at IMDEA Materials involves? Are you working on any specific projects?
Reply: As an R&D engineer, my work at the center involves developing and implementing applications to facilitate and accelerate the research process. My activities here include CAD design and programming in C or Python. Specifically, I’m working in the autonomous discovery of nanocomposites group, with extremely interesting projects aimed at speeding up, reducing costs, and minimising the environmental impact of developing these types of materials.
Some of my contributions to the robotic laboratory include an automated safety system for tensile testing and a material dispenser to automate the creation of different additive compositions in the extruder. Additionally, I’m starting to develop a platform with a colleague to automate the UL94 test, a flammability standard for characterizing and evaluating flame-retardant materials.
Question: And finally, Enrique, what do you hope to gain from your experience here, both on a personal level and for advancing your career as a young researcher?
Reply: In my time here, I’ve experienced firsthand a complete research process from its inception to publications, attending all the weekly meetings and interacting with colleagues from the group and even other departments. I had no idea about the role engineers can play in research, and this stay undoubtedly opens doors to more opportunities in my field due to everything I’ve learned and achieved.
Thank you very much, Enrique!
Are you interested in joining the IMDEA Materials Institute team, either in an internship or full-time predoctoral or postdoctoral position? You can find current opportunities on our job portal at: https://jobs.materials.imdea.org/