ARI manages summer internship program with Sandia National Laboratories


ARI and Engineering Communications

SNL Summer Interns
SNL Summer Interns

As a part of the continued alliance between the Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Applied Research Institute (ARI) managed a summer internship pilot project through Sandia's internal funding sources. The SNL-Illinois alliance was established in 2014 with a goal to foster research partnership in the area of data science, complex systems, digital manufacturing, and on-demand power.

A team of five undergraduate students from different departments at Illinois, including Computer Science and Engineering Physics, worked full time during the summer at ARI with the team from SNL. The students, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, worked collaboratively in teams on projects evaluating hardware for deep learning, building better tools to visualize data, and cloud computing for digital elevation model.

The three projects from SNL during the summer included:

  1. Hardware Evaluation for Deep Learning. The project focused on characterization of hardware components of a system and their performance while running Deep Learning Algorithms.
  2. Web-based Data Visualization Portal. The project involved creating tools for a web application to visualize, modify, and save data of multiple file formats.
  3. Web-based Service for Digital Elevation Model Geolocation Correction Service. The project subsection provides a user interface for the Digital Elevation Mapping Service, which will provide sensor geolocation corrections. The user interface contains multiple features to provide a simple, secure, and scalable product that can be easily modified by developers.

The different skill sets of students working collaboratively in teams helped them learn from each other. One student mentioned, “We learned a while working on projects in an applied sense, something we do not learn in classes.

“The mentorship and supervision at ARI was regular but hands-off for us to learn from our mistakes,” commented another.

The student interns, adopting an agile software development model, worked to successfully deliver near-production level code and reports for all the projects.

Based on the success and the quality of work delivered, Sandia extended their collaboration with ARI to include "direct funded projects" continuing for another year through 2018. This extension gave students an opportunity to work on projects of national interest and encouraged them to consider making SNL a career choice. The SNL-ARI relationship is slowly integrating greater engagement of faculty at Illinois in on-going research opportunities with the Sandia National Laboratories.