[M]y experience at the lab brought many concepts that I learned over my academic career together, such as programming, circuitry, and 3D modeling.
Name: Dilan Cruz-Flores
Major: Computer Engineering
Employer: A. James Clark Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Location: College Park, MD
How did you find the internship/co-op? What was the interview process like? I was in a scholarship program where they got me in touch with a professor on campus who wanted help for some research. I sent my resume, and the professor sent me and my future lab partner a request to meet on Zoom to interview us. The interview was mostly behavioral.
What have been the most interesting aspects of your internship? The most interesting aspects were being able to bring the knowledge that I had accumulated over my college career and put them into something physical and real. I also learned new concepts ahead of when I would have if I was following a traditional course roadmap. Finally, helping co-write and publish a paper on our project was incredibly gratifying and exciting.
What campus activities or courses do you think helped you, or would have helped you, with this internship? The courses I took on programming and circuitry definitely helped with the technical aspects of the research project. An introductory course in machine learning would have been helpful in understanding the concepts before starting, although the professor I worked with did an excellent job of explaining it. On the less technical side, my programming courses taught me to maintain thorough and easy to understand documentation on the code being written, so as to help future programmers that may come across the code.
How have your career or academic goals changed as a result of this internship experience? My career and academic goals became clearer after this experience. Up until I joined the lab, many of my courses were focused on learning the basics and applying concepts to projects of limited real-life relevance. However, my experience at the lab brought many concepts that I learned over my academic career together, such as programming, circuitry, and 3D modeling. Better still, I learned concepts in the lab about courses I had not yet taken such as machine learning. I now have an interest in research, prototyping, and designing proof-of-concepts, things that had only grazed my mind before.
What advice would you give other UMD engineering students seeking an internship or co-op position? For a research position, I would recommend looking up professors and their past research to see if their interests line up with your own. From there, you can send them an email asking if they are interested in taking you on as a research assistant, and if they are associated with any lab on campus.