August 26, 2013

While some students trek across the globe for summer internships, sometimes they only have to travel outside of the South to experience a different way of life. From the Silicon Valley of California to Niagara Falls, N.Y., LSU College of Engineering students learned that life away from the South can be drastically different.

Tyler Longwell, a computer science senior from New Orleans, La., and Summer Unix Systems Administrator for LinkedIn Corporation in Mountain View, Cali., said, “Learning what living and working in Silicon Valley is like is probably my biggest takeaway so far. It’s very, very different from New Orleans and Baton Rouge. It’s like living ten years in the future.”

Longwell helps to run the computing clusters that power LinkedIn. He writes software to help install and manage the thousands of individual nodes that comprise the website's backbone. He also facilitates the use of the clusters by helping developers set up their accounts and software across thousands of machines. His group is responsible for managing the operating systems, user accounts and other infrastructure components for LinkedIn's many data centers around the world.

“I have really enjoyed living in Mountain View,” Longwell said. “Strictly speaking of the internship, though, I have really enjoyed collecting data from such a large number of machines at once and then having my software analyze or act on it. Working at scale is very interesting.”

On the other hand, Jade Bates, chemical engineering junior from Faunsdale, Ala., traveled to Niagara Falls, N.Y., to serve as the chemical engineering intern for Occidental Chemical Corporation. She has worked on two separate projects and is expected to attain a general knowledge of the plant she’s working in by the end of the summer, when she will give a presentation about her projects and experience at Oxy. She also attends daily production meetings, where she sometimes listens in on company-wide conference calls concerning safety and process stewardship.

“Not only have I learned about processes and gained technical knowledge, but also I have been given invaluable insight into my future as a chemical engineer,” Bates said. “I’ve learned that within Oxy (and almost any other chemical or oil and gas company) there are numerous incredible opportunities for growth and advancement, especially with the all the ‘Baby Boomers’ approaching retirement. No one can argue the challenge chemical engineering presents those crazy enough to pursue the field, but here is an extremely condensed version of my advice: work hard, ask for help, give credit where it’s due, be confident but humble, and cook Cajun dishes for your boss.”

Bates has also traveled to Texas twice this summer for her internship: to Houston for an intern event and to Dallas for Oxy’s New Professionals Event, which included other interns and new hires. Having renewed her passport before she moved, she has also ventured into Canada a few times.

“Considering I came to LSU as an out-of-state student, I’ve never had anxiety about leaving home, but I’ve also never lived completely by myself or had to start in a new town knowing absolutely no one except the co-workers I just met,” Bates said. “My first weekend up here, I was fortunate enough to meet a family at church who has all but signed official adoption papers on me! My NY family is very Italian, the heritage of most people here, along with Irish, Polish and Lebanese. There are many great ‘mom and pop’ restaurants in which you can get authentic food originated from these heritages, including my NY mom’s kitchen. Also, people up here LOVE their chicken wings, but I’d much rather eat the pizza, it’s the best I’ve ever had!”

And of course, respecting the culture and talent of SEC football, the yankees she met admitted that most northern teams couldn’t compete and were amazed when Bates described LSU tailgating to them, she said.

“Despite the fact that my Southern accent has somewhat neutralized living here for almost three months, people seem fascinated by it since my arrival,” she said. “Usually complimenting me on the accent, many people I’ve met flat out ask me to ramble just to hear me talk or repeat what I say as if it’s cute or funny!”

Annemarie Resweber, industrial engineering senior from St. Martinville, La., is the management engineering intern for the Denver Tech Center’s HCA Healthcare Continental Division in Denver, Colo., this summer. She has worked on a variety of projects, including observing the registration process at a hospital and working to make it more efficient and analyzing data from the emergency department of a different hospital. Her main project focuses on comprising several data reports into one to simplify the reporting process. The Division uses her measurements to improve productivity in the hospitals.

“The most enjoyable part of the internship thus far has been being able to visit the hospitals,” Resweber said. “Visiting the facilities has not only given me a first-hand perspective of engineering in the healthcare world, but also a peek into the healthcare industry itself! It has shown me some of the process-related struggles hospitals deal with on a daily basis and given me ideas as to what I can do as an engineer in healthcare to ease those struggles through process improvement.”

Her typical workday consists of anything from meetings, conference calls, data analysis or computer programming, as she gains experience in engineering healthcare through a process improvement and a labor management perspective.   

“When you love what you do and who you work with, life’s a little more enjoyable,” Resweber said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed the Denver atmosphere thus far! It’s an amazing city with an endless list of things to do and see, and all the people I have come into contact with are just so wonderful. As a result of this awesome experience and the people I’ve met, I’m hoping to return to the Denver area in the future!”

In conclusion, Bates said, “Generally speaking, we may all be American, but the North is distinctively different than the South!”

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Article written by Elise Bernard, communications intern. For more information, contact Mimi LaValle, College of Engineering, mlavall@lsu.edu or (225) 578-5706. 



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