Irving Cashwell Jr.

3rd Year PhD Student
Electronics Engineering
Norfolk State University

About Me

I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering from Norfolk State University prior to starting my PhD degree at Norfolk State University. Growing up, I wanted to be a lawyer. I knew there were people who needed help when they were wrongfully accused and I wanted to create a better quality of life for my community through law.

What’s next for you?

I have recently completed an internship with the Air Force Research Lab which gave me some insight into how a government research lab is. The environment and the people were amazing. I would like to stay within the government sector, working with the DOD or DOE.

What do you do to unwind?

I enjoy working out, cooking, photography and playing sports. I currently play in a local volleyball league, do some photography in the area and cook on the weekends.

My Research

Tell us about your graduate research

My research studies the electro-optical responses of oxygen vacancies and their role in metal oxide thin films for non-volatile memory storage, low power device applications, and biomedical sensing. Varying process parameters and deposition techniques, I am able to enhance or suppress characteristic responses of the metal oxides

What motivated you to pursue this line of research?

I have always had a passion for taking things apart and seeing how it worked which led me to my interest in electronics engineering for my undergrad and first masters degrees. I did summer research with my now advisor in his lab and was instantly hooked. It allows me to understand how the electronics I use on a daily basis operate.

What is the coolest thing about your research?

I have the ability to improve the quality of society with technology becoming more integrated into day-to-day life. Improving on electronics and data storage platforms will lead to more reliable and cost efficient devices.

What is the most challenging part of research for you?

The process of graduate research is never over. There is always a new avenue to explore and new processes to try. Choosing a focus for my dissertation has been the most challenging part of my research.

My Grad School Experience

Why did you choose to go to Grad School?

I knew that in today’s society, an undergraduate degree would not be sufficient in achieving my personal goals so it was only necessary to obtain post-secondary degrees.

Do you ever feel discouraged? How do you get around that?

The struggle of knowing where I want to be in life and being so close to finishing my Ph.D. degree can be disheartening at times. Patience and humility are traits that I am constantly working on with there being, what seems to be, a lack of interest in my overall success. Watching others in my research group strive and obtain constant feedback and guidance throughout their research while I receive the complete opposite. I am a person who lives by values of truth, perseverance, and respect. The understanding that I will hold true to my values and provide for my family as well as be a role model for those around me keeps me motivated through every obstacle I encounter.

Who are some of your biggest cheerleaders?

I have a very supportive group of family and friends. My family has been calling me Dr. Cashwell since I was in middle school and have had my back throughout my entire life. I was blessed to have my High School basketball/tennis coach who turned into my mentor give me life lessons to strive for the best and to be a positive role model for my community. My friends have always been an outlet for me to vent and uplift me in times where I was less than sure of myself or my abilities. Also, I’m blessed to have the love and support of my girlfriend who has her Ph.D. and is always sharing her experiences and motivating me to keep pushing through and finish my degree.

What has been the most useful life advice you have received?

The most useful life advice I have received and would share to anyone else is to define your purpose. The foundation I have set for myself gives me the motivation to wake up and get to work regardless of how I’m feeling. Knowing that one day I will have a family of my own and living my life will not only be about myself, what I do today will set the tone for how my future will play out.

What do you want to say to up and coming Melanin Genius?

Do not be afraid to be yourself, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. As long as you live to create the best version of yourself that you can, there is nothing that will stand in your way.

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