Challenging Computations

Intern Blessing Nwugo. Photos by Brody Salazar.

Intern Blessing Nwugo. Photos by Brody Salazar.

At UCR’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, interns Teddy Calderon and Blessing Nwogu have gone from working with microprocessors to designing cases to be built by a 3D printer. The case, the current project the two interns are working on, is for a device that measures the wavelength of light. When it is finished, it will be used to determine the health of avocado trees by reading the light they emit.

Because of the nature of the project, all of their time working is spent on a computer, something that proves helpful to them, as they both have majors involving computers. Calderon is a math and computer science major, and Nwugo is a computer information systems major.

Calderon and Nwogu describe the internship as a challenge, but one that came without any bad experiences. Whenever the two have difficulty with something, others in the department would help with their problem. Calderon describes the people they have worked with as being “amazing people” from a professional standpoint.

Intern Teddy Calderon.

Intern Teddy Calderon.

The interns are not given answers when they have questions. Instead they have to solve the problem themselves, but they are shown how they can solve the problem. According to Nwugo, the department members “take time to explain on the white board.” They lead them to the answer, but let them solve it on their own.

Not everything they were asked to do is something they expected. Sometimes the interns would be given a task that involves subjects they were not taught yet. One such example of a time when they faced such a difficulty was when Calderon had to learn to light an LED light bulb.

“As simple as it sounds, I didn’t know how to do that,” says Calderon, “besides a physics class I had taken before where I have a regular circuit board. I was told, ‘Hey make this light work using your computer.’ So things like that, just small little things, would surprise me.”

Another task that proved challenging was designing the case. Nwogu describes building the case as challenging because of how accurate the measurements had to be, as well as inexperience with the design program.

“I’d used one before, but it was my first time using a different one,” says Nwogu. “The first time using it, I really did not go so in depth… I just, like, brushed through it, but it’s like my first time actually building a case. I would say it’s something that’s challenging, but not something that’s impossible.”

Both Nwogu and Calderon describe the internship as something they can learn from, with Nwogu claiming the most valuable thing she learned being how to analyze problems.

“From the beginning of the project,” says Nwugo, “we’ve been given problems to solve, and, to me, that’s the major thing about the internship for me…finding the problem and getting a solution from it.”