One day after graduating from high school, incoming Boise State freshman Kendra Noneman boarded a flight to the National Center for Supercomputer Applications to begin an internship, having laid groundwork with her future professor.
Eric Jankowski’s Computational Materials Engineering Lab strongly
appealed to Noneman, who plans to study materials science and also scored a
track and field scholarship to Boise State — so she approached the professor
prior to graduating from Eagle High School, eager to get a head start.
Jankowski’s lab focuses on arranging molecules to imbue
materials with desired properties, especially for applications used in creating
“He saw my potential, and took me through each step, like
learning programming language and how to use software in the lab,” she said.
“He was great about it. He had me read papers so I could learn some stuff, and
we’d get together each week as a lab to talk about what I was doing.”
The Blue Waters Internship, awarded to undergraduate
students, is a yearlong program that accepts only 20 students annually for
supercomputer research training. Noneman’s project involves assembling
small-molecule semiconductors. She is using simulations, resources from the
University of Illinois, and the Blue Waters supercomputer — faster than any other
“My advice to other high school students is to be proactive,” Noneman said. “A lot of kids don’t know a lot about specific research subjects, but … faculty members … are willing to help them learn.”