July 15, 2014
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Summer internship marks new relationship with Orion Academy

Carrie L Martin, martin59 [at] llnl.gov, (925) 424-4715

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is sponsoring a four-week summer internship for Sam Weinstein, a student from Orion Academy, which provides a college-preparatory program for secondary students whose academic success is compromised by a neurocognitive disability such as Asperger's syndrome or NLD (Non-verbal Learning Disorder).

Weinstein is LLNL's first intern from Orion Academy, located in Moraga, California, and the first student that Orion Academy has placed in a paid position, establishing a bond for the future.

"The Laboratory is very excited to partner with an institution such as Orion Academy and help create opportunities for students to fulfill their potential and become a valuable part of the workplace," said Tony Baylis, director of the Office of Strategic Diversity Programs.

Weinstein is working on theChief Financial Office (CFO) Information Technology team to provide Java programming support to the Oracle release 12 upgrade. Weinstein, a senior at Orion, aspires to become a computer scientist and has already completed several college-level courses in programming. Weinstein credits his father, a software developer, for pushing him to study software development, teaching him much of what he knows and inspiring him to pursue a career in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

With very little work experience under his belt, Weinstein had no real knowledge of what skills are needed and what is important to know in order to work in this field. "When I received the internship offer, knowing how prestigious LLNL is, I knew that this was the perfect opportunity to solve this problem," Weinstein said. "When I started this internship, I was told exactly what I needed to know."

Weinstein's lead mentor, Ted Sanlis,cites Weinstein's high intelligence, attention to detail along with his ability to intently focus and to learn extremely quickly, as the factors characteristic of his learning disability that assure his success in this assignment. "This project is a great opportunity for Sam to experience the full development cycle," Sanlis said.

Weinstein is confident that the experience he has gained and what he has learned during his short internship at LLNL will help him in his future endeavors. "I have learned about reporting tools, I expanded my knowledge of programing languages and I know how to use applications I was unfamiliar with before," he said.

Orion Academy was founded in 2000 by Director Kathryn Stewart and offers high school students an academic curriculum that is challenging and structured to help them discover and develop their individual gifts and strengths, become self-advocates, and realize their full potential. Orion Academy is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and offers courses approved by UC Berkeley.