Works and Days

Sigenics, Reed Winter Externship Program, Debra Moda Raduma

Debra Moda Raduma, sophomore math major, participated in a winter externship in Southern California working with Reed parent Dr. Douglas Kerns at Sigenics, a circuit design and production company

Over winter break, I was fortunate enough to get to visit Southern California where I spent a few days, enjoying the good weather and scenery. I fell in love with Orange County right from the moment I landed at John Wayne Airport. I was so scared and excited at the same time but I had two other externs, Edgar ’17 and Farhan ’18, to share in my worries, as none of us knew what to expect. We were going to work at Sigenics, a company that specializes in the designing of microchips. It has two branches, one in Chicago and another in Sierra Madre, where we were scheduled to work.

The first day in the lab we were greeted by the photo of the famous mathematical physicist James Clerk Maxwell, whose frame hung steadily on one of the walls of the lab. I was already impressed from the word “go”. I was able to learn and understand how analogue and digital systems intersect. We worked on semi-projects, where we used breadboards to build circuits, and an arduino (I didn’t know what this was either!


) that enabled us to control the circuit, as we desired from the codes we wrote. Dr. Douglas Kerns also took the time to teach us some physics and I must admit that I finally had a clear understanding of p-type and n-type diodes and how they actually work. I also got to understand the differences between a scientist and an engineer; there is no spectrum. Dr. Kerns, our host, is a super friendly, knowledgeable and very informative individual. As his lab assistant Marcus describes him, “An Engineer who knows his science”.

Well, we were in Southern California, so we also had to maximize the time and opportunity of being there. As they say, we worked hard and played harder. Luckily, Edgar ‘17, who was our host and also one of the externs, knew his way around, as this was his hometown. We visited Huntington Beach, hiked to the Hollywood sign and wrapped up the trip by visiting Disneyland to catch the Fireworks show, which to our dismay, had been cancelled on this particular day.

I can say with conviction that my time at the Sigenics lab was worthwhile. The lab assistant, Marcus, inspired me to learn more machine and programming languages. One of my future goals was to go into engineering and I had been having doubts about that, but visiting the Sigenics lab was a game changer. I have developed a new drive and it is now an indisputable fact that I will be an engineer, inshallah! I now have a more informed idea of what engineering entails, and the experience of working in an engineering lab, even though it was just for a few days. I have developed a new broadened outlook on science and the knowledge of how useful the skills we learn in the labs here are (Like using a breadboard).

Also, now that I have my own arduino, thanks to Dr Kerns, I may be working on some DIY projects soon!

Tags: sigenics, circuit design, engineering, research