GA-CCRi Analytical Development Services

What have our 2016 summer interns been up to?

Ryan, Shishir, Atallah, and Richard.

Ryan, Shishir, Atallah, and Richard.

We asked each of our interns to describe what they’ve been working on and how they were enjoying their life in the working world. This year, all the interns came from the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science, where all are Computer Science majors except for Ryan, who is majoring in Biomedical Engineering and Physics.

We’ll let them tell you more about what they did at GA-CCRi:

Ryan Cheng

What I Worked On: I spent the first few weeks of my internship writing an algorithm to determine the field of view for an observer at any position in Paris using open-source elevation data. I spent the remainder of my time creating network embeddings and leveraging them to better understand the communities within a social network.

Typical Day: The first thing I do in the morning is the stand-up meeting with the other members of my team. This keeps everybody in the loop about what everybody else is working on. For the rest of the day, I work on my tasks, which are carefully portioned at the weekly sprint plannings. If I run into roadblocks or if I am unsure of the next step to take, I have a quick chat with one of the more experienced team members.

Favorite Part of the Internship: I liked how I was able to work with my supervisor to create an experience that both gave me the skills I needed to work in the industry and also aligned with my interests. At the end of my internship, I was proficient in Scala and had gotten to work with state-of-the-art machine learning techniques.

Favorite Part about GA-CCRi: My favorite thing about GA-CCRi was the spirit of collaboration. Everybody around me was open to help out if I had a problem, big or small. If I didn’t understand how a modeling technique worked, or if I had a question about functional programming, the other employees at GA-CCRi were always available. The cereal bar was also a plus!

Shishir Tandale

What I Worked On: I primarily worked on the Apropos project, which is all about data fusion and analytics. I did a variety of tasks related to data ingest from sources like GeoNames, Open Street Map, Twitter, and Wikimapia—everything from writing scripts to prepare, process, and ingest the data, to analyzing it with GeoServer, Stealth, and Solr. I created and optimized a CSS basemap style for OSM which has already been used in multiple company demonstrations and will continue to be maintained in the future.

Typical Day: Arrive around 10AM with a fresh approach to an old problem I was having. Make plans for lunch, bother team through out the day sharing new insights and solutions to problems or even a new demo. Work a little on documentation and planning, and then continue working until around 6 or 7PM. Coffee breaks expected.

Favorite Part of the Internship: I learned a tremendous amount about writing bash and Python scripts to automate little tasks. I got valuable experience writing Scala code, working with multi-node systems, HDFS mounts, a myriad of different data stores, and did much of my own configuration and set-up. I think interning here at GA-CCRi was a great idea, as it actually prepared me for jobs after college by exposing me to complex software in a friendly setting.

Favorite Part About GA-CCRi: I loved the complete autonomy I had at GA-CCRi. While I was expected to finish my work eventually, I had absolute flexibility in my hours for work. I could take vacations when I needed to, and I could also work for ten hours on days I felt extra productive. Everyone is so helpful with problems you might be having, and extremely knowledgeable about their project area. I felt more like a student in a hands-on class than like a regular intern.

Atallah Hezbor

What I Worked On: My summer started off on the GeoMesa project, the scale of which was a little overwhelming. I weaved my way through the pipeline by implementing a means of adding keywords to Accumulo and Kafka data stores, which allowed for easier integration with GeoServer and Stealth (geospatial visualization tools). After heavy (and much appreciated) scrutiny, my code was merged into the project! It felt good to appear on the contributors list and have a bullet point with my feature on the GeoMesa 1.2.3 change log.

My next tasks focused more on analytics. I stood up a Jupyter cluster for running distributed jobs using Apache Spark and implemented a means of performing an inner join with a geospatial cover. This allowed for aggregation of data by a region such state or country boundaries and led to some very interesting analytics. (Blog post on that soon to come.) I focused more of my later efforts on using Spark to quickly perform data analytics in the context of a Jupyter Notebook, which hosts runnable code blocks backed by a Scala kernel. I wrote up a tutorial on some of the analytics and visualization capabilities of Spark and Jupyter, and I will close out my summer by giving a GA-CCRi Lunch and Learn session on the topic.

Typical Day: Coffee. Perform the ritual of opening and organizing windows and tabs. Crank out work while occasionally engaging in all sorts of life conversations with Chris, my office roomie. Stand-up session with the team. Lunch. More coffee. Power through the afternoon. Repeat!

Favorite Part of the Internship: Being faced with unique challenges everyday, and learning from everyone around me. From the people on my team to the distant coworkers in the chat room, everyone has something unique to offer to help solve what you’re stuck on.

Oh, and also the cereal bar. I loved the cereal bar.

Favorite Part about GA-CCRi: Being around such amazing, smart, and unique individuals. Honestly I’ve learned so much from so many people here, and everyone I’ve met at GA-CCRi has been incredibly intelligent and kind. It’s amazing that so much good can be in one place. My only regret is not getting to know more folks!

Richard Dizon

What I Worked On: This summer I joined the team working on GA-CCRi’s Arpeggio project, which is an analytics and visualization suite for multi-dimensional data. I actually managed to contribute to just about every file across the project after switching back and forth between front-end and back-end work. Using a mix of Scala, JavaScript and HTML, I helped optimize speed performance as a result of a refactorization that created more efficient queries on PostgreSQL, an open-source relational database, and improved various parts of the interface dealing with data visualization.

Typical Day: Since our project dealt with data that was updated daily, each morning I would boot up my terminal on Linux, input a few commands and wait for Maven to build a fresh database from some downloaded metadata while checking GitHub to see if there were any major additions to the code that I’d need to pull down. I’d stay active in our team’s group chat across the day to follow any updates on the project and get assistance on the more abstract issues whenever I needed it. Around 11 I’d also keep an eye out to see if I could tag along to any interesting places people were going to for lunch!

Favorite Part of the Internship: From the very beginning of the internship, I definitely felt like I was doing meaningful work that was hardly trivial by any means, especially with the more difficult refactoring. I’ve definitely learned a lot along the way and I liked that at our sprint meetings my team would give me the freedom to select what types of tickets I wanted to work on to make sure that I could gain the most out of this experience as I could. I ended up tackling issues that helped me gain familiarity with various frameworks, functional programming and other aspects of software that I didn’t have prior to the internship.

Favorite Part about GA-CCRi: I was surprised to see how much culture there was in GA-CCRi despite our size; behind all of the biking and the trivia and the cereal is a group of fantastically brilliant and clever people who’ve made my experience over the past ten weeks so much more enjoyable with our tech talks, company lunch adventures and Friday cookouts.

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