Grace Falanga investigates PPE fabrics for electricians

Grace Falanga

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

During my sophomore year of high school, I was online shopping for exercise clothes and learned about a company that was selling fabric with silver fibers woven into the threads which prevented bacteria from growing, building up, and causing the clothing to smell. I found it so interesting and started doing a ton of research into the company and the people who developed the technology, and learned about materials science. From that point forward, I was set on materials science and have loved it ever since!

Why did you choose Cornell?

Cornell was the second college I ever visited, which I visited the day after seeing a super small school. I always thought I wanted to be at a smaller school because I came from a small high school where everyone knew each other. After my first tour of Cornell, though, I realized how many amazing resources and opportunities a big school can provide. When I came to visit during Cornell Days, I knew that Cornell was the perfect place for me. It had just the right mix of school pride, incredible academics and research, and I could see myself thriving here for four years.

Tell us more about any current research you’re working on:

I'm not currently working on research, but during my undergraduate career I worked in the Hinestroza Lab Group in the FSAD department. There, I assisted an MS student with her project synthesizing and characterizing hydrogels that contained cellulose nanofibers. This past semester, as part of my Senior Lab Course (MSE 4030), I worked with two other MSE students with Professor Hinestroza investigating fabrics used in arc-flash resistant PPE.

What hobbies do you have in your spare time?

I am the president of a dance group on campus called Rise Dance Group, and a lot of my spare time is spent dancing. Additionally, I love going for walks, listening to music, and watching movies with friends. I think it's so important to have creative outlets outside of school, but especially engineering courses. Working those other parts of my brain help me immensely not only stay sane but also work through difficult problem set questions.

Do you have any advice for incoming Engineering students?

Try not to get caught up in what you think you should be doing - focus on what feels like the best fit for you. If that means taking a semester or two to mainly focus on liberal studies, great! If there's something that you're really passionate about outside of engineering, do your best to keep it in your life. I think if I've learned anything over the past year, it's that there are certain things I need in my life (like dance) to reset my mind and body and keep me on track with my coursework. Also, go to office hours!! It is honestly so helpful, even if you don't think you have any questions, to just meet people from the class and get hints on the problem sets. Sometimes professors will even boost your grade if you regularly attend!

What is next for you?

This summer, I will be interning at Janicki Industries in Sedro-Woolley, WA. I will be in the Research and Development department, focusing on composite materials. I will then be back in Ithaca in the fall to pursue a Master of Engineering degree in Aerospace Engineering.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hopefully, I will be working for an aerospace company testing or developing materials to be used in space. I'm hoping to eventually end up back on the East Coast, but I'm also excited for whatever new places my career will take me!

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