By: Caitlin Thompson (Q28)
On November 3, 2017, QUEST students from all majors and cohorts had the opportunity to visit Leidos in Gaithersburg, MD. Prateek Sayyaparaju (Q28) organized the visit through QUEST Corporate, a student organization within QUEST. Prateek worked with QUEST alums Ilan Gold (Q22) and Krishang Sharma (Q23) and Anh Tran from Leidos to finalize the logistics prior to the event. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Prateek and other students to recap this exciting visit.
Approximately twenty students, joined by QUEST executive director Dr. Bailey and program manager Jessica Macklin, traveled to the location. Upon arrival, the group was greeted and given the opportunity to mingle with current employees. They were then presented with a quick overview of the company and the Gaithersburg location.
The visit centered around Leidos’ focus on air traffic control engineering and systems. In order to give the students a better understanding of the types of projects they work on to provide successful air trafficking, the large group was divided into four teams.
Each team rotated through four different demonstrations. During one rotation, students were surrounded by 180 degrees of screen to simulate the experience of being in an air traffic control tower. Students were able to act as controllers while interacting with the products. Leidos also invites actual controllers to test equipment through this system in order to receive useful feedback.
When asked about this opportunity, Jeffrey Zhao (Q28) remarked, “It was extremely enlightening being able to see and test out four of Leidos’ Skyline product line applications. Skyline is Leidos’ international air traffic control enterprise software.”
With this, Leidos adopts many of the same principles of QUEST. They are innovative by always designing more efficient products to keep integrating and stay above the competition. They are also customer focused while empathizing with their end users throughout the design process.
Overall, the trip was very successful. According to Prateek, “Everyone learned a lot, had fun while doing so, and became interested in a company that they may not have known much about before.” By the end, students were eager to seek out internships and discover other future opportunities. They were also excited to share their experience with the QUEST community.
For example, Akshay Guthal (Q27) said, “The Leidos trip was a cool experience because going in, I didn’t know much about air traffic control. They gave us a tour and showed us different software features and even let us play around with some air traffic control applications. Overall, it was cool to learn so much about an industry that I had no idea about from such a successful company.”
Roger Mao (Q29) also responded saying, “Leidos is a very interesting company with a lot of tech and infrastructure that supports our daily lives that I never knew about. It was such an interesting and eye opening visit.”
Thank you Leidos for hosting QUEST!