Greg Brentrup '08 wanted a university that offered big opportunities with smaller classes. So the New Hampshire native bypassed colleges in New England in favor of Lehigh and its department of materials science and engineering.
"There are only 4,600 undergraduates at Lehigh," says Brentrup, "but the resources are large-scale. You just need to show initiative, and the opportunities follow."
And follow they have. Brentrup has already toured South Africa with the Lehigh Philharmonic Orchestra (he plays violin) and competed nationally on Lehigh's downhill ski team.
Last summer, he completed a 10-week research internship with NSF's International Materials Institute (IMI) for New Functionality in Glasses at Lehigh.
"At most universities, sophomores are overlooked for internships," says Brentrup. "But early last fall, I expressed an interest and my professors connected me with the IMI team managing a glass-bone scaffold project."
The IMI is leading an international effort to modify a biocompatible glass into a scaffold that promises to stimulate bone regeneration.
"I worked directly under Dr. Hassan Moawad, who is heading a group charged with adapting the melt-quench glass-making technique to achieve dually porous glass," says Brentrup.
Brentrup's previous classroom lab experiences enabled him to help Moawad mix and weigh rock chemical materials for the glass-melting process. He also polished the glass and used optical microscopes to study its microstructure.
"My work with the IMI really exposed me to the field of biomaterials," he says. "That's a huge field right now. It's great that students can work on projects like that.
"Lehigh has so many opportunities. Being at the right place at the right time helps, but initiative goes a long way - especially since professors are willing to work with you. It's really been a great place for me."