Here I asessed and published the capabilities of the brand new, 11,000 sq ft Process Development and Integration Laboratory, the product of which should be up at www.nrel.gov/pv/pdil anyday now. This lab is used to collaborate with outside institutions and companies to perform state-of-the-art testing and fabrication of almost any kind of PV device you can think of (namely, c-Si, a-Si, CdTe, CIGS, and OPV). More basically what I did was document all of the technical specifications of this lab by hanging out with awesome, enthusiastic scientists, doing technical writing for the website on every characterization and fabrication technique (purpose, how it works, and tech specs), and doing further development of the relational database that the lab uses to manage their information. If you like, you can download my final paper (doc) or powerpoint presentation (ppt 10.1M).
For general information about NREL, you can visit their site here: nrel.gov. It's truly an amazing lab, and they definitely practice what they preach. I often recall overhearing employees casually chat about how they started selling energy back to the grid recently, and people bike as far as 30 miles to work everyday (in the case I am thinking of, though, the employee retrofitted his own bike to be electric). And although I don't think I want to go into pure science after this, it was a great experience.
For ten weeks a partner and I worked on optimizing flow distribution through alkaline fuel cells in cooperation with Ovonics Fuel Cell Solutions. If you have heard of Ovonic, it's probably because it is one of the current leaders in a-Si photovoltaic devices, but they also have a small and somewhat underfunded fuel cell division. To try increase the efficiency of their small fuel cell stacks, we used CFD (computational fluid dynamics) software to model flow through each cell to minimize dead zones. We also experimentally validated our results and tested the effects of different mesh membranes inside the cells. You can find more info at our research's website.
And if you caught that indeed alkaline fuel cells are not the type of cell used in fuel cell automotives even though I said I did automotive research, well done. My project was in fact not so related to cars, but it was still an automotive progrem, so I got to go talk to GM R&D a lot and go to lectures on engines.