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NCSA intern credits SPIN Program for dream career opportunity

by Hannah Remmert

Emily Chen, SPIN (Students Pushing INnovation) intern at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has accepted a co-op position at Parker Hannifin, the global leader in motion and control technologies where she will be doing “Internet of Things” (IoT) engineering. More specifically, she will be conducting market research to determine the best products for an IoT upgrade, then potentially working towards developing these new products. The position begins in January 2017 and will last until the Fall 2017 semester, at which point Chen will return to Illinois to complete her final year as an undergraduate.

Chen is currently a junior at Illinois pursuing a degree in computer science. Chen has held a SPIN internship since the summer of 2015, following her freshman year of college. Chen’s focus with her internship is “Investigations into scientific software and software sustainability.” When she first began this internship, she focused on evaluating software to see what made it good or bad, whether it was lines of code or number of users. From there, Chen says her research has developed into investigating whether or not she can collect a type of metric or standardize metrics so that scientific software developers can better see what software is the best fit for them.

Besides allowing her to delve into an engaging research project, Chen says her internship with the SPIN program has provided some other awesome opportunities.

“Through my SPIN internship, my mentor (Gabrielle Allen) and I have been able to attend the WSSSPE (Working toward Sustainable Science for Software: Practice and Experiences) conference every year. Actually, last year it was in England. I got to go and present my work to a crowd of Ph.D.s and other high-level professionals. It was really cool to see that you’re taken seriously by all these people in the scientific software community, even though you’re an intern.”

Chen attributes her success in attaining this co-op position with Parker Hannifin, in part, to her SPIN Internship.

“So in my Parker Hannifin interview, I actually talked about the SPIN Program a lot. I talked about how through the SPIN program I developed research skills, and not only that, but public speaking skills because we have to do present our research during Lightning Talks every semester, and also leadership skills, because my SPIN project is mostly self-led.”

When asked if she would recommend the SPIN program to other Illinois undergraduates, Chen agreed wholeheartedly.

“Do it!” Chen declared with enthusiasm, and proceeded to describe how the SPIN program has enabled her to apply and expand upon the things she’s learning in her classes.

“I think it has definitely made my college experience more worthwhile. It’s just a wonderful experience in general. I appreciate the SPIN program very much, and I would recommend it to anyone.”

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