Catherine Le

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?
As a member of the Lasers, Flames and Aerosols Research Laboratory (LFA) at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, my research concentrated on combustion processes. Under the supervision of Dr. Derek Dunn-Rankin, I investigated temperature profile in a diffusion flame issuing from a Wolfhard-Parker slot burner.
2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

After experiencing the industrial environment last summer as a manufacturing engineering intern at Pilkington Aerospace Inc., I realized that I want to continue with graduate study after obtaining my bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in June 2000. However, I am not sure if I will be ready for the challenging environment of graduate school. Since graduate school concentrates heavily on research, I decided to get involved in research to prepare myself for such environment.

3. How has research enhanced you education?

I have benefited a lot from being part of the LFA group. I learned to work independently, and how to seek new information. Even though the curriculum offers hand-on experience from laboratory courses, these classes are pretty much "follow directions". In research, Dr. Dunn-Rankin gave me an objective, and I decided on the techniques to approach it. I also had to do a lot of outside reading, such as how to perform temperature radiation correction for thermocouples, but it was worthwhile. I was able to understand the materials for my heat transfer class better because I had the background knowledge from my reading.

4. What has been you favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?

My favorite experience with research is when I was able to overcome obstacles in my experiment, such as stabilizing the flame. The flame stops fluctuating when the stabilizer screen is at the correct position. I knew that the screen had to be 45 mm above the slot burner, but had no idea of the horizontal position. As the result, I played around with the set up until I got a stabilized flame.

5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?

After graduating in June 2000, I will continue with my study at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UCI. My first goal is to acquire a master’s degree. Then, I want to work in an R&D department at an aerospace or automobile company. Eventually, I want to finish my Ph.D. degree. My research helps me prepare for graduate school. My thesis for my master’s degree can be the "in depth" version of my current research.

6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?

Never think that you don't know enough to get involved with research, because you have enough knowledge to do good research, as long as you are willing to put in the effort. Get involved as soon as possible, and don't be afraid to talk to the professors about their research.

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '99 Gina Rappleye
Nov. '99 Maria Rendon
Oct. '99 Scott Avecilla
Sep. '99 Peter Krutzik
Aug. '99 Raj Gopalakrishnan
Jul. '99 Christina Rahn
Jun. '99 Catharine Larsen
May '99 Han Kang
Apr. '99 Bonnie Pau
Mar. '99 Sharla Meeks
Feb. '99 Simin Bahrami
Jan. '99 Catherine Le
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