By Evelyn Griffith, Yahya Khan, Molly Lusk, and Anna Griffith, Loyalsock Township High School
“The future of the economy is in STEM,” said James Brown, the executive director of the STEM Education Coalition in Washington, D.C. Employment in occupations related to STEM — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — is projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Yet, the shortage of U.S. citizens working in STEM occupations is expected to reach over 1.2 million by 2024.
Discovery Machine Inc. (DMI) has made it a corporate initiative to provide students with internships that familiarize them with what a career in a STEM field might look like.
As part of DMI’s STEM initiative, the company hosted two student interns from Loyalsock Twp. High School to provide them with real-world experiences. DMI, a small business in downtown Williamsport, specializes in artificial intelligence for clients including the US Navy, US Air Force, and US Marine Corps. Building upon military success, DMI now provides commercial training needs for healthcare, energy, and business markets as well.
Yahya Khan, Class of 2020: “Interning as a high schooler is an important and valuable experience for anyone interested in college. Having the opportunity to gain exposure to a career field is imperative to decide whether it’s something that’s for you or not. During the summer of 2017, I was able to intern at DMI as a software engineer. During my internship, I gained firsthand experience for how a company is operated and how engineers work together to create products.
“While interning, I learned about software development and implementing skills with different aspects of programming. I was able to write my own code to make a 3D model for an immersive simulation. The process made me realize the infinite possibilities for creating different scenarios with DMI software. At DMI it is essential to be able to make different kinds of simulations, considering what their customers expect. Navy training simulations are much different than hospital training simulations, for instance.
“I also worked on testing simulations for errors, making primitive models, and creating artificial intelligence behaviors that make their own decision based on the environment. My favorite work included making simulations that trained people in the healthcare industry. I valued this work as it gave me an initial exposure to see how hospitals function in such a cohesive and near flawless manner.
“Being an intern at DMI has also opened up exciting opportunities for me. Because of my internship, I was able to speak at the Lycoming Chamber of Commerce stressing the importance of internship programs in all fields. Having this opportunity was very rewarding. Speaking about my internship in such a formal setting to a group of business leaders was not only humbling but something that I can talk about when it comes to college applications in the future. Being afforded chances like this is enlightening and something that more companies should participate in when it comes to high school students. I think a misconception among businesses is that students wouldn’t be interested in career-oriented opportunities. However, DMI has shown me that even active high schoolers, in a multitude of sports and other activities, who are interested in getting involved with companies still can. Internships extend the knowledge of students so they can gain work experience in a meaningful way that helps them make better decisions moving forward.”
Evelyn Griffith, Class of 2020: “My internship was a great experience. It offered me a new outlook on scientific careers everywhere and has offered lots of insight as to what a programming career may be like. My background started with my parents having a career in computer software programming. That gave me a lot of unique opportunities to expand my knowledge and learn before I even started my internship. However, when I started my internship, I was still a beginner. I went in knowing close to nothing in comparison to the people that I worked with, but throughout the summer, my skill level improved.
“Throughout this internship, I found things that I liked and things that I didn’t like. A few things that I found to be interesting were Blender, RESITE, and Audio Recording. Blender allowed me to create new simulations to put into the “games” that DMI created. RESITE allowed me to actually create the games, and Audio Recording allowed me to place my voice in the simulation so that the character’s communication would have sound.
“At the beginning of the internship, I expected that it would be very hard and intimidating. Both were true. It was hard for me, as a teenager, to work with adults and people that had much more experience than me. I also expected that it would be fun and interesting. This was a very true prediction. However, the internship still had its challenges. When interning at a computer software company, you are expected to be able to learn on your own and use the equipment that you are given, but I was never taught some of the basic things that I needed to know. It was a challenge for me to learn to use the software that was given to me, but eventually, I figured it out, and I am now able to be more productive by myself and focus on my work.
“When I was in the internship, there were a few things that I was hoping to take away. Of course, I wanted things like references for future applications and colleges. However, I also took away some valuable life skills. I learned how to work with people who are more experienced than me, take constructive criticism, manage my time, and most importantly how to ask for help. These are important things that I think many high schoolers don’t understand. And the fact that I was given the opportunity to learn these things (as well as a little bit of programming) puts me ahead of the game, and will without a doubt improve my chances to be successful in the future.”
As DMI continues its STEM initiative, they would like to urge the local community to do so as well. Increasing high school internship experiences will help make our graduating seniors the most competitive in the country.