by Aimee Moses and Lidia Solorzano
At Expedition Technology (EXP), there are plenty of opportunities to experience full circle moments. This past summer, we served as intern mentors just two years after being interns ourselves. Since we missed out on the in-person internship experience due to COVID restrictions, we leapt at the opportunity.
Four outstanding students joined EXP for the summer, and tackled challenging problems in the fields of machine learning (ML), computer vision, software engineering and signal processing.
- Huy, studying Computer Science at the University of Florida, worked on building an age-off system for completed database extraction jobs stored in Amazon Web Services S3.
- Arshia, studying Computer and Electrical Engineering at Virginia Tech, implemented a computer vision track storage system for his team’s project.
- Kanwal, studying Electrical Engineering at George Mason University, developed techniques for learned noise reduction for over-the-horizon radar returns.
- Elinor, studying Cognitive Science at UCLA, focused on improving an object detector for 3D point clouds, as well as an active learning framework to create a labeled dataset for the network.
Mentors play a key role in internships at EXP. We show interns the ropes, provide technical and emotional support, give feedback, and more. We even got to participate in the intern events we missed out on in our virtual-only 2020 internships, going to happy hours, game nights, and a food and history tour of U Street in DC. Kanwal summed up her mentors’ roles perfectly : “They were really supportive and fun to work with. I felt comfortable asking questions and they were always willing to discuss and explain why we approached solutions in the ways we did.”
No trip to U Street would be complete without visiting Ben’s Chili Bowl
We strive for internships to be personally and professionally fulfilling, which means we want our interns to end the summer having acquired valuable technical skills:
- Huy said he gained a real-world perspective for “how to properly test the code I write with good coding practices, as well as how to better research and understand documentation for new libraries I do not know.”
- Arshia learned about tools and libraries used to design RESTful APIs which included Docker, FastAPI, Postgres, Alembic and SQLAlchemy. On using these technologies this summer, Arshia said, “At first I was introduced [to] all the tools we use in this company, and I was gradually given more autonomy to design and implement my own feature in the project.”
- On the ML front, Kanwal found it “really cool to build out different aspects of the ML pipeline, like data loading, training and inference, because it gives you a deeper understanding of how everything works together.”
- This internship was Elinor’s first time being on an ML project; she said she “learned to work in a team where everyone is contributing to the codebase, and how to work with and around others in order to make [her] own contributions.”
As former EXP interns, we know first-hand that the skills we gained and the relationships we built during our internships served us well once we became full-time employees. Prior exposure to version control, the Agile development process, and professional codebases eased our transition from school to industry.
Even though our personal experiences were different than those of this year’s interns, EXP consistently organizes a successful and worthwhile internship program. When asked about her thoughts on the program in general, Kanwal said, “It’s hard to find companies that will take on undergraduate students as ML interns, but at EXP I was a part of an R&D ML team. I appreciated that I could not only see how I contributed to the entire project pipeline, but that my intern project was isolated enough that I could tie it off in a nice bow by the end of the summer.”
We asked our interns for some parting advice for the next intern cohort. Huy said to not feel shy about asking questions and to “trust in the leaders of the team to look out for you, because they did an amazing job looking out and mentoring me.” After working with a few big codebases for her project, Elinor advises to focus on a “high level understanding of how the code fits together” rather than trying to know all the small details. When asked what advice he had for future interns, Arshia said, “Try to learn as much as you can and ask as many questions as possible because everyone here is more than happy to teach you and help you.” As mentors, we couldn’t agree more. Collaboration, learning, and support are three of EXP’s core values and they are evident not only in the internship program, but in every team at EXP.
We loved watching the 2022 EXP interns grow this summer and can’t wait to see who joins us next year. We are currently reviewing applications for Summer 2023. Send yours today!