Hi! My name is Chris Kasprzak, and I’m a third-year Ph.D. student in the Macromolecular Science and Engineering (MACR) program at Virginia Tech. This semester, I have an exciting opportunity to intern at Apple in California, and I wanted to keep a blog to share my experiences. But first, how did a young scientist end up at Apple?

It all starts with my initial decision to attend Virginia Tech. When I was applying to graduate school, I knew of the world-class reputation of Virginia Tech’s MACR program. However, I was unaware of its facilities, how the graduate student community was, how the timeline of the program helped my future career, and how graduate students interacted with professors.

After the Macromolecules Innovation Institute (MII), the department that administers MACR, informed me that I had been accepted, they helped me schedule a time to visit campus and answer my questions. I came during the organized recruitment weekend and had the chance to meet my fellow peers who were also debating about which school they would sign on the dotted line for!

This was not only a great networking opportunity, but it helped kickstart a sense of community. During this recruitment weekend, we toured the Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Laboratory (NCFL), the Macromolecular Materials Discovery Center (MMDC), and some individual professors’ labs that we had stated interest in. The phenomenal facilities at Virginia Tech demonstrated to me that they had all the tools I would need to generate a stellar graduate career, and the spirit of collaboration ensured that I would be able to use them!

After arriving in Blacksburg, I began the coursework required by the MACR program. While there are more classes required by the MACR program than similar programs I looked at, it did not impede my research progress. It did, however, provide me with a solid foundation from which to draw on to explain phenomenon that I encountered in my research, and I have used knowledge from each and every class in my research.

I joined the lab of Professor Tim Long, whose home department is chemistry. My research broadly centers around synthetic design of multiphase systems for additive manufacturing and stimuli-responsive materials. The extensive material characterization required for these research ventures has positioned me to be an interdisciplinary scholar that is equipped to attack an obstacle from multiple fronts. It is these characteristics, instilled within me by my experiences here at Virginia Tech, that allowed me to be a competitive applicant for the internship at Apple. Dr. Long encourages his graduate students to seek out internships during their Ph.D. studies in order to get some real-world industry experience and start our professional network.

The skills-building coursework in MACR, such as the presentation class, and the support from the graduate community helped me maintain confidence throughout the interview process and eventually land the position! I am just getting started at Apple, where I work in the Failure Analysis Laboratory. I hope to add more about this as I go through the internship, but that’s all I can say for now! My position here at Apple will certainly draw on the knowledge base founded in my coursework, expanded upon through my research, and honed by the extensive instrument use at Virginia Tech.

Chris Kasprzak is a third-year Macromolecular Science and Engineering (MACR) Ph.D. student in the Long Research Group. He is spending the spring 2020 semester at an internship at Apple.