Sophomore interns at Cotsworks, is technician at think[box]

Sylvie Crowell at think[box]

Though she is only in her sophomore year, Sylvie Crowell has built an extensive materials science resume.  She spent summer 2020 interning for Cotsworks, a Cleveland-based engineering firm, is a student technician at think[box] and is doing research for the Cleveland VA.

While taking EMSE 110 in Fall 2019, Crowell went on a field trip to Cotsworks and briefly met the CEO, Ken Applebaum.  She was so inspired by the visit that she asked her instructor, James McGuffin-Cawley, to connect her with Applebaum, who told her about the summer internship opportunity.

While at Cotsworks, which primarily focuses on fiberotrics and airplanes, Crowell’s main responsibilities were materials research and designing a scale model of Cotsworks’ new production facility.  She primarily worked remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions, but visited the offices every two weeks to meet with everyone.  Crowell frequently attended video calls with the company’s engineers, contributing to business development discussions, and she was told that her research helped the staff make decisions about the directions for product development.  She also did market research.  “Being familiar with Solidworks and with research skills also was really valuable for this internship, which were skills I honed during EMSE 120 and ENGR 398 / ENGL 398,” said Crowell.

When Crowell returned to campus for the Fall 2020 semester, she began working as a student technician at think[box].  She works on the fourth floor, which includes a waterjet cutter, dust collector, CNC ShopBot and welding room.  When visitors come to think[box], Crowell helps them “make their ideas come to life” by building a working version of their prototype.  She helps guests to use lathes, mills and saws in the metal shop and also the CNC ShopBot, woodworking equipment and saws in the woodshop. “Any project, from making a tea coaster to building a car engine part is welcome at the fabrication floor of Think[box],” she said.

This semester, Crowell is also involved in a nanojet research project with the Cleveland VA, where she is studying biomedical applications and implantable devices.  In November, she will begin working with a nanojet aerosol printer with the VA.  She credits her research mentor, Janet Gbur, as being “incredibly supportive of my academic and career goals as well as making sure I can do research on the topics which really interest me. She makes extra effort to connect me with other students and engineers in the field.”

Crowell was first drawn to Materials Science when she attended ASM’s Eisenman Materials Camp during her sophomore year at Cleveland Heights High School.  She then declared Materials Science and Engineering as her major during the spring semester of her freshman year at CWRU.  “Once I declared, I was extremely impressed with the faculty in this department and how they are very invested in making sure every student in the department has all the opportunities available to them,” she said.  “Because of the small size of the department, there’s always people here to help you.”

Crowell, whose main scientific interests include additive manufacturing, shape memory alloys, welding, and applications in aerospace, hopes to pursue a master’s degree after she graduates in 2023.  After completing a master’s degree, she hopes to pursue a career in a research and development in industry or a government job.

"There’s ways to apply materials science to just about any field," said Crowell.