Internship Highlight–Steven Tra
Hello CSS Community,
My name is Steven Tra, and I am a senior majoring in Computer Science with an intended minor in Mathematics. This past summer I interned at the Engineering Research and Development Center’s Geospatial Research Laboratory (ERDC-GRL) in Alexandria, VA. This internship was offered to me in association with the SMART Scholarship, a DoD scholarship that provides full tuition and summer internships to students majoring in STEM. Overall, this internship exposed me to the areas of data science and machine learning, and I plan to explore these areas further in my studies and future career opportunities.
My internship started on May 29th and lasted ten weeks, officially ending on August 3rd. On my first day, I was assigned a mentor, and he allowed me to choose from three different research projects that I could pursue. Although I cannot describe explicitly what I did for my project due to security reasons, I can disclose that I worked on a large-scale data project. Essentially, I created a computer application that could generate a large amount of random data; this data could be very simple (i.e. contain very few fields/characteristics) or very complex (i.e. contain dozens of fields/characteristics). Once the data was generated, I used it as training data for a neural network. The neural network used a complex machine learning algorithm which allowed me to make predictions on incoming test data sets. The results for my network were satisfactory overall; I was able to accurately predict 78.41% of the one million test data examples. From this internship, I learned more about best practices in data science and machine learning, which are two of the most rapidly growing fields in computer science right now. I also learned about my interests and preferences as a researcher and employee.
As a recipient of the SMART Scholarship from the DoD, I am required to complete internships with ERDC-GRL until I finish my undergraduate degree. Thus, I have confirmed that I will be returning to their facility next summer. However, the experience I have had so far will prepare me for the rigor of working in the industry as well as any other post-graduate endeavors.