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Marissa Dickerson finds her place in engineering research in the 3D lab

Story by
Trisha Radulovich
marissa dickerson 3d printing undergrad engineering researcher
Marissa Dickerson is a chemical engineering student at the college via FAMU. She participated in the 2021 Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program at HPMI. (Photo: FAMU-FSU Engineering/P Radulovich)

Marissa Dickerson is a junior chemical engineering student at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. She hails from West Palm Beach, Florida and researches customizable printable 3-D for favorable mechanical, electrical and thermal properties. She took part in the Summer 2021 Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at the High-Performance Materials Institute closely associated with the college. Dickerson is also a recipient of the Florida A&M University George W. Gore Award.

What was it like doing engineering research for the first time?   

Before this REU, I wasn’t particularly interested in any area of research, and I hadn't had any exposure to research. I knew I had a slight interest in nuclear energy and developing sustainable energy, but overall, I was still largely unsure of what I wanted to do. 

What kinds of things do you get to do?

Throughout the REU, I learned how to use several different machines, including the ARES-G2 (DMA) and the Phenom Scanning Electron Microscope and collaborated with my research group. It was fulfilling to contribute to experimental design and then see those ideas work out. That was the best part of my experience.

What did you study?

This research experience allowed me to learn something completely new for me: composites. I titled my research “Engineering Structure Dynamics and Rheological Properties of Functional Inks,” and the goal was to investigate the properties of graphene nanoplatelet composites and determine how they are affected by varying print parameters and weight concentration. The end goal was to create a customizable, printable 3D ink with favorable mechanical, electrical and thermal properties.

What surprised you about doing research?

My research experience was eye-opening. I never thought that research was going to be easy—and it wasn’t. But I learned how to read and understand scientific literature and how to conduct scientific experiments. I enjoyed the challenge.

What are your long-term goals?

I want to continue my education and get my doctorate. I don’t know if that will be in Tallahassee or out of state.

Who inspires you?

My grandma inspires me to be the best I can be. Her strength through adversity inspires me to follow my dreams and interests.

What advice would you give other students interested in doing a research experience?

To anyone wanting to get into research, ask your professors what type of research they are doing, and ask if they are taking students. Put a good resume together and talk with any professor doing research that interests you. Your goal should be to show them you are a serious student interested in doing research.

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