Cornell Engineering Defining Moments: Saaj

[upbeat music playing] Hi my name is Saaj and I’m a Cornell engineering physics student. Early on,
during orientation, Cornell Engineering
has this really nice like majorfest
with sweets and all the professor’s come
out to talk to you. They tell you about
the introductory courses, etc. I primarily
wanted to do something I can be energy
sector like the renewable energy sector. And what I hadn’t realized prior to
Cornell was that because it’s so
interdisciplinary here you could have a
goal and get through it through any
science possible. And that excited me a
lot. I took some of their classes and
then I realized I like physics a lot.
Coming in I was pretty set on the fact
that I wanted to do research. But I was
also painfully aware that I had no
experience doing research and it really
intimidated me to go and talk to like
these experts in the field. That’s when I
realized I was only afraid of like a no.
That’s the worst-case denial that the
faculty member says no, you have a great
conversation and like the faculty member
knows that you’re interested. So if they
do have a spot in their lab later on
they can reach out to you. So I send out
all the emails through all the
professors that I researched and one of them replied. So the lab I work in, works with
transmission electron microscopy and
what that means is if you think about
light microscopy if you have something and you shine
light on it you can see it right? But if
you put like a glass in the middle like
a magnifying glass, for example, and
because you have a magnifying glass you
can see it bigger. Now you can think of
the same thing but with electrons
because what you think about is like
electrons is matter but everything in
the world is matter and waves. And if you
think about electrons as waves it’s like
the same as light just a little more
physics involved a lot more physics
involved. And then you can do the same
thing and you can see something even
smaller. One of the most defining moments for me at Cornell was
to actually see electrons um behave like
a wave. I’ve studied in classes read some
textbooks professors have had told me
till then let the electrons are waves
you can do stuff with it. But I had never
seen like proof like experimental proof.
I just knew it was. And this was my first
summer I was working with a postdoc he’d
like tuned the microscope everything and
then he switched it on. And I could see
this like pattern that’s like true
definitely that um electrons are waves.
And I don’t know why I just got so
excited because like I like these were
just like green spots but it meant so
much to me. And I got really excited I
took a bunch of pictures, the postdoc was
like “oh my god yes I forgot how it like
feels to see it for the first time” and
you I was just like oh my god I get to
work with something like this throughout
my career at Cornell and that come in
very excited. It like blew my mind that I was
surrounded by cutting-edge equipment
that could probe so deeply and it was
very exciting. They’re just so many
machines and so many people who know how
to operate the machines they’re all
involved in such great science. our motto
is pushing the boundaries and like till
then and we’re just saying but I
realized that you could be pushing the
boundaries but all of this great
infrastructure around you.

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