Summer Recap: Student Internships and Travels
Elizabeth Blankenhorn – Cohort 18:
This summer, I interned at a start-up nanotechnology company, XiGo Nanotools, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. XiGo created the Acorn Area, an instrument that uses proton shifts due to changing magnetic fields (NMR spectroscopy) to measure the surface area of nanoparticles. The Acorn Area is revolutionary in this generation of nanotechnology instruments, as it is not only an accurate method to measure a particle’s surface area, but also an efficient one. While old methods can take up to an hour per sample, the Acorn Area can produce results within three to ten minutes. In fact, Instrument Business Outlook has nominated XiGo’s technology for the 2011 industrial design award for laboratory instruments.
XiGo sells the instruments to Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and private companies around the world. XiGo also invites potential buyers to send samples to the lab in Bethlehem to be measured on our instrument. It was my job this summer to make surface area measurements of those samples to be sent back to the companies in report format. XiGo uses this opportunity to showcase the instrument’s accuracy to the customer and close sales. I also had the opportunity to assist in demonstrations for investor funding as well as in sales pitches to companies such as L’Oreal.
Chul Kwon – Cohort 18:
My summer has been going great so far. I have been working as an intern at Northrop Grumman Corporation. My team currently is working on a new ambitious information management platform that can process petabytes (1 petabyte = 1,000 terabyte = 1m gigabytes) of data at a very fast rate. Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to speak freely about it, but I’m very happy that I got this golden opportunity to work on such leading edge technology that could potentially revolutionize the industry.
The internship program at Northrop Grumman is considered one of the best among the Fortune 500 companies. You get a chance to work with veterans in the field, and they treat you as true member of their team, assigning you real work and responsibilities. Plus, although it really depends on which manager you get, managers will give you fairly unlimited support for your work and there’s no restriction on work schedule. You can take literally 4 hours of lunch, as long as you get your work done. I have a coworker who comes to work at around 10am, generally take a one-hour lunch break, and leaves for home around 4pm. His manager doesn’t say anything about it because he really gets his work done and his performance generally exceeds expectations.
It’s a great internship opportunity that every QUEST member should try to have. If you’re a computer science/engineering major, mathematics major, information systems/technology major, or any computer-related engineering major and are interested in applying, please let me know!
Michael Hamilton – Cohort 18:
My internship at SpaceX in Los Angeles, which I talked about in June’s QUESTPress, was amazing. I got to work up close with rockets that were being built in the same building that I worked in. On the weekends, I surfed, sat by the beach, went skydiving, explored Hollywood and hiked in the mountains, just to name a few things. In addition to this, I learned to ask questions early and often. Everyone there was happy to help me out and I accomplished much more than I would have had I tried to be too independent.
Justine Hong – Cohort 19:
This entire summer I worked at Georgetown Cupcake as a store associate. I, personally, am a huge fan of the delicious cupcakes the store sells and was more than excited to work at the store. I learned a lot about what it takes to operate a small family-owned business as well as witness how a small business expands. I met tons of different customers from around the world, had my picture taken hundreds of times with customers and cupcakes, and met the owners of the store! This was an exciting summer since I was able to be a part of such a small business in the heart of DC. The staff and the customers made my work experience thrilling. This was such a rewarding summer. Hopefully I’ll continue to work there throughout the rest of the year.
Nathan Elencweig – Cohort 18:
Earlier this summer I wrote about my trip to Peru with Engineers without Borders. I had an amazing time with EWB, and the final results felt very fulfilling. Since we finished the project ahead of schedule, we were able to visit Machu Picchu, among many other Inca ruins. The scenery was incredible, and at the time, I thought I saw the best South America had to offer. But, I was wrong! After the rest of my Engineering teammates flew home, I grabbed my 40 pound backpack and met my best friend, who was studying abroad in Buenos Aires. We backpacked across Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru for fourweeks.
We went on a seven-day trek in the Bolivian Amazon, and got to see alligators, macaws, capybaras, and, of course, monkeys. With the supervision of a local guide, we went piranha fishing (eating them for dinner was not that great of an experience). Shortly after, we drove the boat 200 meters down-river and jumped in for a swim in the Amazon. I slept in a mosquito net on the jungle floor. One morning, I woke up with a tarantula not too far from where I slept. Due to my extreme fear of spiders, I panicked and came close to crying in my sleeping bag.
Other than the Amazon, some other exciting experiences include biking down 50 km of “Death Road” outside of La Paz, cliff diving outside of Cusco, and riding motorbikes for the first time.
I’ve never been interested in “the extreme” prior to traveling, but I had an incredible time in South America, discovering a new side of myself.
Moses Lahey, Cohort 18:
For the past two months, I’ve had the pleasure of taking part in a study abroad trip in Taipei. Aside from learning Chinese, I’ve been able to learn a bit about the culture through the sites and people I’ve encountered while in Taiwan. Cheap bubble tea and street food and convenient and inexpensive cabs and subways made Taipei seem like a college student’s dreamland – did I mention the drinking age here is 18?
Aside from all that, the people here are extremely friendly, and most are more than willing to help you order food or get directions if you can’t read or speak any Chinese. There are a lot of interesting sites to see and explore like Jiufen and the local night markets, as well as quite a few nice places to chill and relax, all made easier by how cheap everything here is (a trip to the hot springs was less than a dollar for students).
Staying here for the past two months has been an awesome experience – although it definitely messed with my perception of living expenses. I really encourage anyone who is interested to visit Taiwan and to experience the food, people and culture here!