30 Sep IF/RCO Intern Spotlight
QuantiTech’s Integrated Fires/Rapid Capabilities Office (IF/RCO) interns were selected to participate in a development program that focuses on helping interns develop essential work skills required to become contributing members of a technical team while gaining hands-on experience with real-life work challenges. Each intern works with a mentor who advises them and answers questions about their project. We had the opportunity to chat with them to learn about the projects they’re supporting.
When Levi is not working or in school, you can find him helping out on his family farm in East Tennessee. He loves sports, participating in most of the intramural sports at his college, Tennessee Technical University (TTU). He’s involved in his campus Baptist Collegiate Ministry as a part of the leadership team, coordinating and serving the BCM’s weekly $1 student meals. In his spare time, he is a woodcarver and a hiker.
Like his brother, Luke spends his time with his family in East Tennessee when he’s not working. On his college campus of TTU, he’s involved in the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, serving in leadership positions. He’s involved in most of his school’s intramural athletics. When he isn’t working, he divides his time between reading, athletics, microcontroller projects, and helping out on his family farm.
Andrew is from Charlotte, NC, and moved to Huntsville to attend UAH. He’s a traveler, having been to Europe and Africa, as well as spending mission trips in Haiti & Kenya. He’s wrapping up his last semester at UAH, spending his free time reading, playing video games, and playing with his cat. He’s also involved with Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) on campus, as he has a passion for helping others.
A former high school football starter for Grissom High School, this Huntsville native is working towards his degree in Aerospace Engineering at The University of Alabama. He’s involved in a program called Al’s Pals, where he helps mentor kids within the Tuscaloosa Area on a weekly basis. In his spare time, you can find him reading, playing video games, and playing basketball.
What drew you to QuantiTech?
Levi Daniel: Last summer, I had an internship at Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL). I learned about QuantiTech through some of my contacts there, and I heard about the project and the opportunity to work this summer. Through those contacts at ORNL, I was able to get in touch with QuantiTech. I was offered a position over the summer to work for them.
Luke Daniel: I worked at ORNL, which collaborates with QuantiTech on several projects, so I knew people who were familiar with the company. I looked into QuantiTech and saw that they were working on some stuff that I was really interested in, so I decided to try and get hired at QuantiTech.
Andrew Weigel: I’ve been an intern at QuantiTech for three years. I’m at UAH, so I intern in the summers between school.
Logan Owen: After my first school year, I was looking for a job, and I had heard that internships weren’t usually given to upcoming sophomores but got lucky and was able to get an interview at QuantiTech. I’ve been interning here for three years since.
What are you majoring in? What led you to choose your career?
Levi Daniel: Electrical engineering. I’ve always been interested in building and designing things, so I’ve been leaning towards engineering for a long time. As far as electrical, I saw a lot of growth in the field of electrical engineering – a lot of opportunities, a lot of variety, a lot of different things I could do with my degree. I haven’t found anything I wouldn’t enjoy working on or learning about.
Luke Daniel: Electrical engineering. I chose it because of its flexibility. The electrical engineering field is pretty vast, so it allowed me to learn about many different things, like programming and working with hardware.
Andrew Weigel: Aerospace Engineering. Since I was little, I have always been fascinated with [understanding] why giant chunks of metal can fly through the sky. I spent my younger years researching planes and advancements in aerial technology. I would read almanacs of all the types of planes. I’ve just always been interested in aircraft. Being a science and math person, I figured that engineering would be the best path for me.
Logan Owen: Aerospace Engineering. Initially, I always thought I’d want to be a chemical engineer. During my junior year of high school, I took AP Chemistry. Although I did well, I realized that I did not enjoy chemistry at all. So, I started to look into other options, and Aerospace Engineering was the first one that really caught my eye and seemed interesting.
What project are you working on?
Levi Daniel: In short, working on a software program called IPORT (Intelligent Parameter Optimization for Radar Tracking). The goal is to automate and process so that someone familiar with radar tracking would calibrate and adjust the settings during radar tracking in order to produce the most optimal data.
Luke Daniel: Basically, we are working on building some software that will take data from radar and optimize the parameter sets for operators so that they can use those parameter sets on similar tests to get the best possible data.
Andrew Weigel: Logan and I are building an analysis selection tool that helps filter in data from the radar testing out in Yuma. We’re making a GUI (graphic user interface) to cipher through information and to be able to isolate specific radars and timestamps to put into an analysis too.
Logan Owen: We are assigned a project to create an analysis selection tool that works with the existing data frame viewer so it can filter through based on what test cases or radars the user wants to look at and based on those, it can perform analysis tools on the data sets.
What surprised you most about your project?
Levi Daniel: I’ve been happily surprised with how interested my mentor is in not only helping me learn about the material that I’ve been working on, but also the engineering in the field. He’s given me a lot of career advice, and it’s really valuable to me. I’ve been happily surprised by the amount he’s been willing to share.
Luke Daniel: I guess the most surprising thing was the amount of flexibility we were allowed. We were encouraged to come up with our own solutions and make many development decisions on our own. That was something I wasn’t expecting, just being an intern, but it’s been nice to get to go through that whole engineering process.
Andrew Weigel: How difficult it ended up being. They told us we would probably be coding. I didn’t realize how little I knew about coding. It’s a huge learning experience, and I’m grateful for that, and they’re super helpful. If we have questions, we go up and ask. They know we’re aerospace, so they know we aren’t coding wizards. They signed us up for a course in basic Python, and the rest has been watching YouTube and googling stuff.
Logan Owen: Pretty much the same as Andrew – the difficulty of simple tasks. It was more hands-on, and you had to figure out how to go about it.
What’s been your favorite part about the intern development program?
Levi Daniel: Experiencing the many different opportunities with electrical engineering and the variety in the field. I’m looking to explore the parts of electrical engineering, and I’ve enjoyed learning about how I can use my degree in the material that I’ve been working on this summer. It’s really valuable to me, and I’ve appreciated the opportunity and insight from all of those around me.
Luke Daniel: Like I said, how supportive everyone we work with is. They’re interested in seeing us learn, develop, and come up with our own work in the ways that we decide to do it. It’s been cool to be surrounded by people who are interested to see me grow in the field.
Andrew Weigel: The knowledge I’ve gained and the friends I’ve made. I look forward to seeing the people I work with. I’ve learned so much about Python. I’m just happy that I got to learn a lot without the pressure that I had to be incredible. I’ve gotten to learn and do new stuff that I’ve never had to do before.
Logan Owen: The people I work with and the new skills I’ve gained. I met Andrew, and he’s a pretty good friend of mine now. Last summer, we helped build a solar-powered battery box, which was hands-on building skills, and this year we’re learning programming.
How has working during quarantine changed anything about your work or what you thought your internship would be like?
Levi Daniel: It hasn’t really changed anything, but it has complicated a lot of things. Of course, communication is probably the most significant complication. Whereas I would typically go down the hall and talk to my mentor, now I have to do it through a computer and meet him like that. So that’s more difficult, but still manageable. It just takes a little bit more planning. Also, things as simple as IT support or getting hardware for the project have also been complicated. No changes, I guess, just a few complications. The commute time is excellent, though.
Luke Daniel: The biggest part is the location. I was kind of anticipating being in Huntsville for the summer. Of course, it was sort of difficult meeting everybody for the first time online. I think that’s the most significant change. Other than that, the commute is great!
Andrew Weigel: I am in the office every single day. We did have a bit of a COVID scare, and I spent some time teleworking, which wasn’t great. I have roommates, cats, and a bunch of stuff to distract me, so that’s not great for my work ethic. I come into the office whenever I can.
Logan Owen: For the most part, it’s been the same. As Andrew said, we had a COVID scare, and unfortunately, I was exposed to somebody who had it and had to work from home for a bit. I also try to come into the office whenever possible.
Do you have any advice for future interns?
Levi Daniel: Take advantage of the resources at QuantiTech – the experience of the engineers who have been working for some time and the advice they’re willing to give. QuantiTech has a lot of different projects in a lot of different areas. Explore that and take advantage of the experiences of others.
Luke Daniel: Ask questions. I’ve gotten to some places where I’ll get stuck on a problem, and then as soon as I take the time to ask a question, it gets cleared up and I get to move on. Asking questions is important, for sure.
Andrew Weigel: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Here at QuantiTech, people are so friendly and very willing to help you out if you have any problems. With the number of times that I’ve asked questions and gotten responses, I would think my supervisors would be annoyed with me, but they keep answering me! They’re willing to help me out in any way that I need.
Logan Owen: Ask for help if you get stuck. You aren’t expected to do it on your own, and you can’t do it all on your own. Andrew and I tried, and we had to knock ourselves down a peg to realize that we can’t do everything.