It was an easy process to narrow my list of problems down to three. I simply chose the ones that excited me every time I thought about them. However, it was harder to choose a single one to work on. I ended up selecting the most developed one, but I could just as well have chosen a problem that I had no idea how to solve yet. I would just have to think a bit more.
My mentor, Dr. Maria Appeaning, a chemist who specializes in adhesives, has been a huge help. She approved my decision, and promptly sent me supplies and materials. I couldn’t have gone far without her.
The problem that I chose requires testing of the 3M material that I will incorporate. Although I can find a slew of information on the 3M websites, the particular parameter that I’m looking for has no information, because the material is not usually used the way I will utilize it. Therefore, I must test them to figure out which one to use in my invention.
I had several ideas for the testing, but all of them were foiled by the limited supply at hardware stores and restricted access at possible testing sites. I passed the first obstacle by rummaging through my old house and finding supplies that aren’t made anymore. The second obstacle was much harder to overcome. I must have traveled to five sites all over the city (and proximity); some were more than an hour away! Unfortunately, none fit my requirements.
To solve this, I designed a testing chamber so I can test my materials at home. I had to draw many different designs, each better than the last. I finally came up with one that was plausible, using supplies I already had on hand.
Failing is something that all scientists have to endure. Experiments go awry, inventions don’t work, research comes to a halt. But we have to overcome these failures to make our final result as impeccable as possible. Experiments and inventions must be redesigned, research takes a new route. All scientists need to persevere through setbacks, and I’m experiencing that right now.