Summer internships produce professional successes
Summer internships teach students a lot about what they want to do for a career, said Collin Rumpca, a Dakota State computer science student from Aberdeen, S.D.
“The experience is really good to understand what you like and don’t like,” Rumpca said. That work experience can also bring professional success.
Rumpca and fellow student Kody Everson spent their summer conducting research at the Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) in New Mexico; that work has resulted in research posters which have been accepted to the Super Computing 2019 conference (SC19) in Denver.
The SC conference began in 1988 and has grown into the broadest and largest conference in high-performance computing. The 2018 event was attended by 13,000; the 2019 conference is being held Nov. 17-22 in Denver, Colo. Keynote speaker, Steven Squyres, is principal scientist for the Mars Exploration Rover Project.
“The internship research experiences the students gained from LANL, along with those they will gain from the SuperComputing conference, are important. All these efforts lead to building faster computers and solving more computation-intensive problems,” said Dr. Yong Wang, associate research professor in The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences, who has had both students in classes.
Rumpca learned he had a passion for research after his 2018 summer internship with a regional bank. “It was a good internship, he said, but “I learned I don’t want to do development. It just wasn’t for me.” That brought him to LANL for the summer of 2019.
“With research, there are so many different solutions, so many different avenues,” Rumpca said. “It feels like you’re doing a school project for fun.”
Unlike class assignments, researchers must work to find the optimal solution, making sure code is consistent and readable, stated Everson, followed by testing and approval. This was his second summer of research at LANL.
A native of Sioux Falls, S.D., Everson is in the 4+1 program, in which a student can earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years. He has his bachelor’s degree in computer science and math for information systems, and will graduate with his master’s in computer science in the spring of 2020. He plans to continue research in the national lab system either at LANL or Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, N.M.
Rumpca, also a 4+1 student, will be at LANL again next summer, working on a research project involving the Arctic climate. Most of the research will be lab work, but he might have the opportunity for some field observations in the Arctic to get his own data, he said.
“LANL really prioritizes education, and they want you to learn as much as you can,” Rumpca said, so in addition to lab work, “they also want you to see what you’re researching, physically see it, rather than just read about it in the data. That’s pretty cool,” he stated.