Last summer, PURM allowed me to engage in a hands-on research experience in a “structures” laboratory that bridged the world of architecture and engineering. It was an eye-opening sight for me to learn the compromise between design and fabrication, and to learn the technicalities of a research project, especially with architecture being a field that is not commonly associated with research like most science fields.
The lab I worked with, Polyhedral Structures Laboratory, was in the middle of creating a plug-in for Rhino 3D (a 3d-modeling software) called PolyFrame. Working with Polyhedral Structures Laboratory, or PSL for short, I immersed myself in the world of research. I assisted in tasks everywhere from fabrication and assembly of a physical model, rendered complex 3d models using a design software, edited demo reel videos for beta releases, animated the lab’s logo for official use, and many other things in between. I learnt that research is a cycle of learning and improving, and that if you choose a subject that matters to you, it can be the most fulfilling job on the planet. During the short 10 weeks I spent working in the lab, though, I picked up very useful skills of familiarizing myself with softwares that I will need in architecture studio classes and later in my career, along with tips and life stories from my fellow mentors.
Now having dipped my toe into the world of research, I’ve been inspired to take on a project of my own. If time allows, I may submit a research proposal of my own addressing a subject that matters to me: climate change and poverty issues in my home, Indonesia. Although I am not sure yet what my project will entail, I now know that there are hundreds of wonderful mentors at Penn who would be happy to guide me.