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Hamza's diary entry - Spring 2017

This fourth semester has been both demanding and fruitful. Not only have I completed the semester’s four academic projects in addition to the year’s co-curricular ones, I also undertook an internship at a university research institute’s computer vision lab. On a lighter note, through my friends in the science society, I have also been able to launch the university’s first science and engineering student magazine, Spectra, and have taken on the role of managing editor.

Interested in finding out more? Well the magazine’s first volume is available to read online.

Considering moving from engineering into physics

As this semester came to a close, I’ve discovered that my academic interests are shifting more towards physics and away from engineering. Looking into this further I discovered that most of the fundamental maths and physics courses needed for a bachelors in physics are already incorporated in an electrical engineering degree. So the idea of shifting from engineering towards physics for my higher studies doesn’t seem too far-fetched.

With a three-month summer break ahead of me, I started emailing physics professors from various universities in Lahore to ask if I could work with them as a research intern during the summer. One professor agreed but unfortunately he had to go on sabbatical leave and won’t return until December. I accepted defeat and instead decided to brush up on my maths and physics skills during the summer.

A surprise opportunity

But then, during my finals I happened to discuss undergrad research opportunities with an old school colleague who happened to be working as an electrical engineering professor’s teaching assistant. He told me that the professor works in applied physics and would welcome potential interns. I emailed the professor, which was complemented with a generous recommendation from my old colleague and I was called for an interview within a week.

A summer research placement in optics

The interview went well and the professor explained that he headed a nanotechnology lab and had ongoing projects ranging from antenna engineering and optics through to microwave devices and photonics. Since optics seemed to be closer to physics than engineering, we agreed that I should work in this field and my research internship began!

This serendipitous summer placement meant I had to amend my plan of studying math and physics. However, to my delight, I found that optics is based on electromagnetic theory and involves lots of applied mathematics – both topics I had planned to study over the summer.

Giving back to the community

So far this summer is looking set to be very productive. As well as my internship I will also be visiting a local orphanage at the weekends to teach Scratch programming to the kids. A sense of giving back to the community while working on the intellectual pursuits I enjoy is my idea of a happy summer!