Stitching the Gap

Stitching the Gap

Summer internships with the 2013 seniors



9 DPEA seniors of the Class of 2013 completed summer internships in Santa Barbara. As interns, these 9 students worked on certified, real-life projects and along the way, they learned how to stitch the gap between high school and the workforce.

The students immersed themselves into the science, technology, and business fields for six to ten weeks. Paul Bramsen, Thomas Dwelley, Brenna Hensley, Anisha Kumar, and Daniel Richman worked in the UCSB Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). Daniel Gay and Caroline Whelan worked in the university’s research laboratories. Agnetta Cleland and Shaunessy Grant, on the other hand, worked at local Santa Barbara companies. All 9 interns learned valuable lessons, including the difficulty of applying theoretical knowledge to the real-world, the importance of persevering while learning, and the value of self-reliance with no direction.

DPEA students, Paul and Thomas applied a computer science theory to build a robotic software allowing the iRobot Creates to autonomously execute tasks. Both interns believe that their experience strengthened their interest in computer science. Paul noted: “Knowing that as a team we had written all the code from scratch to get the robot to do [the tasks] made us feel like we had accomplished a lot.”

For Anisha, it was learning the difference between an AP Computer Science assignment and an authentic computer engineering project. While working with Paul and Thomas, she focused on programming a Roomba vacuum cleaner that could find and detect the Xbee Radio, a transmitter radio. With this job experience, she believes she will be “well-prepared for robotics” when FIRST competition begins.

Daniel and Brenna realized the difficulty in merging their multifaceted project with their peers’ work. Some of the skills they learned included image processing and coding in Python and C++. They also integrated different pieces of software, so the Microsoft Kinect could identify and track different types of objects. Daniel recommends the internship, especially if you like computer programming. “Otherwise you’ll end up sitting around [the summer] a lot,” he said.

Daniel Gay and Caroline decided to work in UCSB research laboratories—material engineering and biotechnology, respectively. Each intern experienced the resilience of a researcher.  Although “the scary warning labels on the chemicals” made Daniel doubt his working environment, he became familiar with synthesizing semiconducting nano-particles and testing surfactants’ effects. Similarly, Caroline was confronted with the challenging task of dissecting squid tissue, which she described as “pulling apart two pieces of wet tissue paper and trying to not tear them.”  Both interns understood that persevering in research is analogous to running a marathon.

UCSB was not the only center of hard work. and Neal Feay Company each had a D’Penguineer working with their products. In a company setting, Shaunessy and Agnetta understood the importance of taking initiative. In working at, Shaunessy interacted with customers, fixed software, and helped with the company’s products. At Neal Feay Company, Agnetta used different dye techniques on anodized aluminum, requested quotes, and placed orders. Agnetta summarized, “if you’re not afraid of figuring out how to do things on your own, this would be a great internship for you.”

The nine interviewed D’Penguineers connected the dots between the academic work they complete in high school and the professional work they encountered on the workplace. They learned to not only be good studiers, but also efficient workers. All 9 DPEA seniors have understood that there is always something that is worthwhile to learn and apply, no matter what subject matter.