MITRE Interns Team Up to Showcase Technical Creativity

December 2014
Summer Interns
Summer Intern at showcase expo.

What do MITRE's summer interns get out of their experiences here? First and foremost, a chance to dive into problems and demonstrate those results outside of the classroom.

"At school, you often learn a lot of abstract concepts," says Casey Falk an intern from Haverford College. "At MITRE, you have the opportunity to put the concepts into practice. You're still learning, but in a different way."

Without a doubt, MITRE's 2014 summer interns were an enthusiastic and talented group. At a showcase expo held in August at MITRE's two main campuses in McLean, Virginia, and Bedford, Massachusetts, many of our interns gave demonstrations of their work. They ranged in age from high school to graduate school students. Their work encompassed projects in many engineering and technical disciplines. Despite their seeming differences, however, they all agreed on one thing: MITRE's Student Program is a valuable experience.

Teamwork Is Key

Some of the interns at the expo worked in groups, while others worked individually. Eight students in Bedford—Jared Cohen, Lisa Fan, Matt Gramigna, Adam Holmes, Julia Johnstone, Sarah Ober, Andrew Searles, and Kelly Zhang—made up the largest team. Spanning two tables, they presented their project, "Agile and Adaptive Command and Control Intern Challenge."

"The goal is to make a software program for the U.S. Air Force to help with planning and executing missions," says Cohen. "Each of us created a widget that will work together to make one large project. My widget was the Mission Viewer, which displays data about each mission."

This undertaking took a great deal of teamwork and cooperation between interns. "Up until now, I didn't have much experience developing programs as part of a group," says Gramigna. "It was really cool to see how everyone can work together and learn from each other."

Another group of five—Gabby Bennett, Justin Guo, Jake Higgins, Jack Kahrs, and Doug Krofcheck—presented their project on a collaboration board codenamed OmegaBoard.

"The idea behind the collaborative whiteboard software is for it to be purpose-driven," says Guo. "For example, if the user wants to hold a project status meeting, then the whiteboard would offer steps and suggestions for an agenda and would help guide the meeting along."

Working in the Real World for the Public Good

Falk, a junior at Haverford College, presented his project in McLean. "SAnTA [the Structure Analytic Technique Advisor] is an expert-based recommender system," he says. "The system strives to improve the effectiveness of intelligence analysts by quickly recommending the analysis techniques best-suited for combating a given problem."

"My experience here at MITRE definitely gave me a taste of the engineering industry in the real world," says Jacob Nazarian, an incoming freshman at Boston University. He learned the programming language Ruby and its framework, Ruby on Rails. "I also learned a great deal about healthcare information systems."

Worcester Polytechnic Institute graduate student Marc Green showcased his project on developing a comprehensive test bed for LTE communications, similar to what most smartphones use. "I feel like the work I'm doing contributes to the public good," he says. "Interning is also about the pursuit of knowledge, and I love that."

MITRE's Commitment to the Next Generation of Engineers

This year's group of co-ops and interns set a new record for MITRE. "We had 247 students here both during the summer and throughout the year," says Jessica Yu, MITRE's student programs lead. "This includes students working at both main campuses as well as 15 MITRE sites around the country.

"We're planning on expanding our student programs next year. We'd like to have more students showcase their work at the summer expo including some of the interns from MITRE sites."

—by Victoria Lynn and Kay M. Upham (Editor's note: Victoria Lynn is a University of Massachusetts undergraduate who wrote this story while an intern in MITRE's Corporate Communications & Public Affairs division during summer 2014.)