Fall-Winter 2014 Sanderson

  • BSE student gains more than experience during Australian internship

    BSE student interns in Australia

Anastasia Sanderson researched possible internships and wound up spending the summer in Australia and getting to experience more than the professional life of an engineer.

BSE student gains more than experience during Australian internship

Calendar Icon Oct 22, 2014      Person Bust Icon By Karl Vogel     RSS Feed  RSS  -  Submit a Story

Anastasia Sanderson, a junior biological systems engineering major, found time for sight-seeing during a summer internship in Australia, including visiting the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Anastasia Sanderson, a junior biological systems engineering major, found time for sight-seeing during a summer internship in Australia, including visiting the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
During this past summer break, Anastasia Sanderson had a great winter.

While Nebraska was in the throes of a typical hot, humid, stormy summer, the junior Biological Systems Engineering major spent 10 weeks of winter Down Under, working at an internship at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia.

UNL career fairs offered plenty of options for internships, but there was also plenty of competition for those positions which often go to juniors and seniors. So Sanderson started researching internship possibilities on her own, and the thought of working in a foreign country for a summer became more appealing.

"I've always wanted to go abroad," Sanderson said. "As an engineer, I didn't want to be stuck in the classroom all the time. Other majors, they get to travel a lot and I was like, 'Why can't I do that?' I was debating the differences between study abroad and internship abroad and I decided on an internship because I knew I wanted to go into industry and an internship would have more weight overall."

After finding an internship at Griffith University's Queensland Sports Technology Center, Sanderson applied and was accepted a few days later.

Sanderson, who studied ballet as a child, was interested in QSTC's studies of dancers' body sway during plies (a smooth and continuous bending of the knees outward with the back held straight). That sparked her idea to study releves, a more difficult maneuver in which a dancer rises and balances on one or both feet in either demi-pointe (on the balls of her feet) or full pointe (on the tips of her toes).

"I knew that in a plie they were moving their body down and that there wouldn't be much sway with that," Sanderson said. "What they would sway more with is releves and getting farther away from the ground."

Anastasia Sanderson at QSTC
Anastasia Sanderson studied the body sway of ballet dancers during an internship at Queensland Sports Technology Cluster.
With a purpose defined, Sanderson began putting in long hours preparing for the study.

She researched what others had studied to determine how she wanted to experiment. Then she performed trials on herself to decide which sensors to use and how to define the trial and what the dancers would be asked to do. Then, she had to write the code for the program.

"I already knew I really like coding, but I also found that I like doing the research and the trials," Sanderson said. "It was really cool to be able to take what I'm learning in school and apply it outside."

The study resulted in a direct link between a dancer's body sway during a releve and the evaluation score given by a professor. It also revealed a practical application for the information.

"We guessed that while they were up, their backs and wrists would move and that basically came out as we thought," Sanderson said.

This type of internship opportunity is something Sanderson would advise other engineering students to pursue.

UNL junior Anastasia Sanderson meets a wallaby during a visit to a zoo in Cairns, Australia.
UNL junior Anastasia Sanderson meets a wallaby during a visit to a zoo in Cairns, Australia.
"Everyone should go abroad. You're in classes anyway, you might as well go somewhere that you can take classes and still get to see a different part of the world. You get your eyes opened not only to a new culture, but to new ideas and you learn to apply things in ways that you never would have before," Sanderson said. "No one even thought about internships abroad. Some of my friends had studied abroad. I thought I'd just go for it and I absolutely loved it."


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