Iterations: Modifying and Designing Research Devices (and a Liberal Arts Education)
In the basement of Shattuck Hall at Mount Holyoke is the Arango solar cell research lab, where engineering is a key point. Solar cells are composed of thin layers of different materials. A custom-designed sputter chamber -- a vacuum-sealed chamber used to deposit material on a solar cell substrate -- is scheduled to be installed into the Arango lab by the end of the year. The design of this chamber was completed this summer after in-depth research and iterations as design constraints were defined. Engineering design is a multi-step process that requires an open mind, creativity, technical skills, and involves numerous iterations. Similarly, a liberal arts education is often iterative, with modifications and changes as interests and goals are defined and redefined. This is a story of how engineering research parallels an evolving liberal arts education at Mount Holyoke, a place where you do not have to go far to see engineering at work.