Meet John (Jack) Dubil: Software engineer

Aug. 19, 2016
summer student spotlight

John (Jack) Dubil is an undergrad student studying software engineering at San Jose State University. He will graduate next year and hopes to return to work full-time at the Lab. Photos by Julie Russell/LLNL (Download Image)

Meet John (Jack) Dubil: Software engineer

Carenda L Martin, martin59@llnl.gov, 925-424-4715

Editor's Note: This is one in a series of articles highlighting the diverse group of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory summer students.

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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: John (Jack) Francis Dubil

Hometown: Morgan Hill, California

University/educational background: Pursuing a bachelor’s degree at San Jose State University in San Jose, California.

Major: Software engineering

Anticipated graduation: 2017

Working in: Computation, matrixed to the Environmental Restoration Department (ERD).

What interested you in pursuing a summer internship at the Laboratory?

I had heard about the Laboratory due to living and going to school in the Bay Area. It was my dad who actually reminded me that it would be a good place to apply for while I was looking for a summer internship. I decided to give it a shot and things worked out really well.

What are you working on at the Laboratory?

I’m working with ERD, helping with the development of their suite of web and database tools. Much of the application suite is made up of legacy code, so a refresh is under way to update everything to a much more modern framework, from Perl to Python and Django, specifically. This still is in the foundational stage, and my project was to help identify and develop endpoints for a new web application program interface (API) that simplifies database access for the new applications, and reduces code duplication in development.

What do you enjoy most about interning at the Laboratory?

I think what I’ve enjoyed the most here is the opportunity to work with so many experienced developers, and just awesome people in general. I’ve also enjoyed the fact that the work I’m doing here really will have an impact and be useful. It wasn’t just some random assignment that never really ends up helping out anyone else; it’s being used to help clean up the environment.

What have you learned (or are learning) that has made a difference?

Since I had very little web experience before coming here, just the experience of working with Python has made a huge difference. I’ve learned a lot about working with those technologies, which will definitely be useful to know, since so many things are moving to the web now. I’ve also learned a lot about actually working in an environment with specific software release processes, rather than just writing code for a school project and maybe working with others on Github and things like that.

summer student spotlight
Dubil spent his summer helping with the development of web and database tools for the Environmental Restoration Department. Here he reviews his poster presentation with his mentor John Consolati of Computation.

Where do you see yourself after graduation? What is your dream job?

Based on how I did at the Computation ACE interview event, I might actually see myself working here as a full-time employee after graduation, which sounds awesome to me.  For a while, my dream job has been working on video game development since video games are one of my main hobbies. I’ve thought for a long time how amazing it would be to work at one of the companies responsible for some of my favorite games of all time, like Blizzard. However, I’ve also really enjoyed my time working here and the idea that my work has a much more direct impact on the world, I’m actually leaning a little more toward something with the Lab at the moment.

Who/what has inspired you to pursue an education and career in a STEM field?

The biggest factor leading to my pursuit of computer science and software development was being able to tinker with my first computer. I liked figuring out how things worked, which led me to programming and discovering that it was something I was really interested in. It also probably helped along my enjoyment of video games.

What has been your biggest challenge to overcome?

My biggest challenge that I’ve overcome has been adjusting to everything that’s happened after my parents’ divorce. They’re both still very supportive of me, but dealing with the family being split apart still was a rough experience in a lot of ways, and led to a lot of changes at home.

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?

I don’t really feel like I have much of a huge accomplishment or anything super special to point toward, since I’ve never really been super involved in sports or a lot of other stuff like that. Most of where I’ve excelled has been school, as I’ve generally had pretty high grades. I have had a 4.0 GPA through several semesters in college, and only have a couple A-‘s stopping me from having a 4.0 overall, which I’m pretty proud of. I’m also pretty proud of getting into my internship here. This is my first time getting any sort of work experience in a software field, actually related to my major, and to have that at a national laboratory definitely is something I think is pretty cool.

As a college student, what is the most important lesson you have learned?

One of the most important things I’ve learned from college is to be organized. Even though it’s simple and sounds pretty cliché, having good ways to keep track of classes and assignments really helped me out a lot, even outside of school as well.

What advice would you give a high school student?

I would recommend keeping track of everything and be organized. I also would recommend taking advantage of AP classes in math if that’s the sort of direction they're interested in. Although the AP classes that I took for physics and history ended up not being applicable to my degree requirements at SJSU, I’d almost recommend focusing more on trying out other things for variety, unless they’re really sure that’s what they want to go with.

summer student spotlight
Students at the Lab work hard, but they have fun. Dubil and fellow summer student Danny Sun goof around with the resident T-Rex.

What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?

I really love reading and can get sucked into a book for a majority of the day if it’s something I’m really enjoying, or multiple days depending on how long it takes me to read it.  I’m also very into video games.  I play a huge range of games, though mostly all on a PC now since I haven’t really kept up with getting consoles since the Gamecube. I also watch a lot of professional gaming, specifically StarCraft 2 tournaments.

What is next for you/what are you looking forward to?

After my internship is over, I’ve just got a few days before I return to class for my final year of my bachelor’s degree, which will be a major part of my near future. I’m looking forward to quite a few of my classes there and then graduation itself.

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To learn more about summer internships and the Laboratory’s scholar programs, visit the scholars@llnl website.

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