Castro Morales APPlies his talents at NIF

Aug. 17, 2011

Computer scientist and former summer intern Jorge Castro Morales has created apps for mobile devices that allow for new and innovative ways for the world to learn about what's happening at NIF. Photo by Jacqueline McBride/LLNL (Download Image)

Castro Morales APPlies his talents at NIF

Like many organizations across the country, summer is a time for an influx of new, fresh faces. LLNL is no different, welcoming hundreds of summer students and interns from near and far.

One of those students is Jorge Castro Morales. A computer engineering student at the Universidad del Turabo at Gurabo, Puerto Rico, his interest in the Lab was piqued when a friend who worked at LLNL last summer told him how much he enjoyed it. After being contacted about a possible opportunity by his adviser, through collaboration with Computation's Tony Baylis, he jumped at the chance to join the National Ignition Facility (NIF) and assist in building Android and iPad apps.

The Android NIF application is now available on the Android market. Since its launch, the NIF Android app has been downloaded more than 100 times from more than 10 countries with an average rating of 4.8/5 stars. For more information on the apps, e-mail mobile-support [at] (mobile support).

"I've done a lot of internships, but the position at the Lab seemed really different than others," he said. "And the opportunity seemed perfect because I love programming in Java and I love new technologies."

The position has been a good fit for Castro Morales and his interests. He has built his skill set through university and internship experiences, working extensively with Java, testing Samsung and Motorola phone information and developing applications for interfaces between vehicles and phones (Android and BlackBerry).

"This project has been really interesting because I believe the most efficient and convenient way of delivering information is through mobile devices," he said. "It's the future."

And delivering information about NIF is something that Castro Morales has developed a passion for. He has a deep interest in space, science, the Big Bang Theory -- and when he explored what NIF is about, he felt that same thrill.

"When I learned about NIF, it felt like science fiction. I didn't expect that something like this was really here in our world," he said. "So when I saw that I got to work with the project, that my job is really about promoting what NIF is, I got really excited. For me, this is getting to live science fiction, every day."

At the end of the summer, Castro Morales will wrap up more than just his summer job. His internship at the Lab serves as the final piece for his bachelor's degree in computer engineering, and as his summer position comes to a close, a new one will begin. Unlike many summer students, he won't be leaving LLNL to head back to campus at the end of the summer.

Shortly after arriving at the Lab, Castro Morales knew this was a place that he wanted to be, so when he was contacted by Baylis about his interest in full time opportunities, Castro Morales took advantage of that opportunity as well. When his internship wraps up, he'll become a computer scientist engineer/framework developer in the NIF Computing Applications Division in Computation.

"The position deals with framework development and the layer behind the user interface," he said. "It's my other interest and what I'm really good at, so when I saw the job, I knew that's what I wanted to do."

And even better, he'll get to continue living and promoting his science fiction dream -- his new position will be in the matrix working with NIF. While his skill set is something that is sought after by private industry, it was important for Castro Morales to be a part of something that could help people.

"I really like places like Google, but the projects here are going to change the future, and I'd really like to be part of it," he said. "I know that what happens at NIF and across the Lab will help the world itself and that's why I really wanted to be here."