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This internship has shown me that I can find my place somewhere

Meredith Teddy, a student at North Carolina State University, is one of eight interns for whom SIC arranged a short-term work placement in research centers and companies in the Central Bohemia Region. Meredith spent a month studying software used in super-powerful industrial lasers at the HiLASE Center (Institute of Physics of the CAS).

What tasks did you deal with during your internship at the research organisation?

,,When I started my internship with HiLASE, my first set of tasks revolved around becoming familiar with TwinCAT – the PLC (programmable logic controller) environment utilized throughout the laser systems. I followed simple programming assignments provided by instructional videos on the software, eventually becoming confident enough to create a bit of a simulation of my own with motion sensors, lights, and staircases. After I completed my project, my supervisor introduced me to the hardware that actually connects code to machines.”

,,I learned quite a lot about wiring, charges, and a bit of circuitry in this process, eventually creating a small-scale version of my project with physical elements within the electronic workshop. The build-up of knowledge was intended to prepare me for my main task, which is to research and create a mock-up of a system in which an operator is notified via a mobile notification when an issue is detected with the laser, allowing the operator to complete other tasks out-of-lab and leave the laser to run without supervision.”

What did you find most interesting during your internship?

,,I was intimidated by the concept of learning the hardware component of programming, I had never really worked with wires or anything of that nature before – but I have absolutely loved it! There’s something quite satisfying and rewarding about figuring out how to create connections that give you the result you’re looking for, even if it’s just a light turning on when a button is pressed.”

Will you use any of the lessons learned in your future studies at NCSU?

,,Absolutely. I have felt a bit lost in my major throughout my academic career due to the number of possible applications that exist, particularly within the field of computer science, but this internship has shown me that I can find my place somewhere and that I really, really enjoy having my hands on the software and hardware components of programming! Having the opportunity to apply my knowledge to something more than just a letter grade has been an absolutely invaluable experience.” 

In addition to your internship, you had the opportunity to visit a number of places in and around Prague. Which places did you like the most and why?

,,HiLASE is actually in Dolní Břežany, a town just outside of Prague. It is approximately an hour from the city centre, so every day I have a very small tour through some towns of the Czech Republic. Though, I have to say my favorite experience around and out of Prague would have to be taking a bike route with friends alongside the Vltava from Invalidovna to the town of Roztoky north of Prague. On the route, we steadily go from a busy city to a very quiet, calm side of the country. Tram bells and car horns fade away as the sounds of the river, birds, and tree frogs come out. I like to work around people and have access to the great resources of the city, but absolutely love having the ability to touch nature when I need it.”

Thank you and good luck!

Jakub Horáček
Senior Control Systems Engineer, Hilase, Meredith Teddy’s supervisor

,,The goal of the internship was to introduce Meredith, who is a software engineering student, to the fact that a control system is not just a program and a software, but a large amount of electronics, electrical engineering and hardware through which the software communicates with the real world. I was pleasantly surprised how Meredith handled the technical part of the project, even though working with electrical wiring was a completely unknown chapter for her. The final task of the internship was to apply the acquired knowledge and create a notification job notifying the user using a GSM module, which, for example, sends an SMS message if the laser control system detects a malfunction.”

,,While working at HiLASE, Meredith displayed great independence. At the end of the internship, a functional application was created that we will be able to deploy in a real laser system. I believe that this was a chance for Meredith to expand her knowledge and perspective with a real industrial application that will be beneficial for her future career. I think the internship was mutually beneficial, and Meredith and I have already agreed to continue our cooperation with possibly another internship during the next school year.”