The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) student internship program is designed to allow students to engage in work-study employment opportunities in relevant science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and administrative fields during the summer academic break. This year, LLNL expects to welcome more than 900 students from universities nationwide and around the world.
Introducing: Emily Craig
Hometown: Rochester, New York
University attending/educational background: Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.
Majors: Computer science and mathematics
Anticipated graduation year: 2017
Working in: Computation
What interested you in pursuing a summer internship at the Laboratory?
I met recruiters from LLNL at SC15, a high performance computing (HPC) conference, last fall. They described the Cluster Engineer Academy to me, and it seemed like a unique opportunity to learn about and work with high performance computers. Very few places in the world have computing resources like LLNL, and I was excited at the prospect of learning from expert staff.
What are you working on at the Laboratory?
I am part of the HPC Cluster Engineer Academy with 11 other interns. The main purpose of the academy is to give us experience in system administration for HPC Linux clusters. Within that group, I also am working with two other interns on a heterogeneous computing project using GPUs. We are developing a program that can be used to demonstrate the power of GPUs in general computing, rather than just for graphics.
What do you enjoy most about interning at the Laboratory?
I most enjoy all of the people I am working with here. The other interns in my program are some of the smartest students I have ever met. Learning and solving problems alongside them is exciting. All of the mentors and lecturers we have been working with are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their work.
What have you learned (or are learning) that has made a difference to you?
I have learned a lot about the challenges and benefits of working with GPUs for general purpose computing, which is a hot topic in HPC right now. GPUs offer impressive speed-ups in computationally intensive programs, but they are more difficult to work with than CPUs, and I am learning how to work around some of those difficulties.
Where do you see yourself after graduation? What is your dream job?
I would like to work as a software developer for a project that benefits society in some way, perhaps advancing scientific knowledge or alleviating social issues. I am interested in pursuing a graduate degree, but not immediately after graduation; I plan to take a year or so off first to determine my specialization.
Who/what has inspired you to pursue an education and career in a STEM field?
Through high school, I always gravitated more toward STEM subjects. In my second semester of college, I took my first computer science class and really loved the opportunity to solve complex problems. It was more challenging and rewarding than any subject I had studied before, so I became a computer science major and haven’t looked back.
What has been your biggest challenge to overcome?
I have an exercise-induced heart condition (supraventricular tachycardia) that has been challenging to work with as a swimmer. Although it is not life-threatening, it can pull me out of practices and competitions unexpectedly, which is frightening and frustrating. After several years, I am able to control my mindset about this heart condition by being aware that an episode could occur and doing what I can to prevent one while still focusing properly on my races. This has improved both my times and my enjoyment of the sport.
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?
The accomplishment that I am most proud of is being selected for the New York Conference All State Symphony Orchestra in my senior year of high school. Based on a solo competition, only about the top 30 French horn players in the state were selected for the various conference all state ensembles. Years and years of practice went into me making that cut, and it was a joy and privilege to play with the excellent musicians I met there.
As a college student, what is the most important lesson you have learned?
Attitude is critical. I have found that the mindset you have around challenging situations has a huge impact on the outcome of those situations. If you have a sub-par professor for a difficult class, you can see it as an excuse not to master the material or a challenge to learn more independently or collaborate more with classmates. Similarly, a hard swim practice on a day when you’re sore and tired can be a reason to be mad at your coach or a chance to prove to yourself that you can work hard even when it hurts.
What advice would you give a high school student?
Take some less serious classes that you are interested in. In high school, I took so many AP classes that I had little time for electives, and I wish I had taken a basic computer programming class.
What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?
I spend most of my spare time swimming. I’m on the swim team at Mount Holyoke, and I specialize in mid-distance freestyle events. I also enjoy playing French horn in the college orchestra.
What is next for you/what are you looking forward to?
Right after I finish my internship, I am excited to be going on a weeklong backpacking trip with some friends in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. After that, I’m looking forward to continuing the research I was doing last summer as a senior thesis while I finish my senior year.
To learn more about summer internships and the Laboratory’s scholar programs, visit the scholars@llnl website.