What’s a journalism and politics major from Ithaca College in upstate New York doing interning at NVIDIA, which focuses on AI, self-driving cars and VR? Believe me, I asked myself the same question.
I never thought I would be writing on subjects such as intelligent drones protecting endangered species in Africa, a Chinese startup building driverless trucks, and AI’s ability to determine the future of red giant stars.
Researching and writing stories like these as a corporate communications intern here this summer has made one thing clear: the company’s GPU-powered AI revolution values diversity.
Over 400 students interned at the company’s Santa Clara headquarters this summer, its biggest class yet. That put NVIDIA’s University Recruiting team into overdrive developing a comprehensive curriculum, offering opportunities to build skills, and planning networking events for our interns and their new colleagues.
Building the Future
Innovation has been the crux of Anuj Rao’s work making our GPUs with our architecture team. Using simulation models, Rao, a computer engineering master’s student at the University of California, San Diego, worked to modify the overall performance of our GPUs, with a focus on better running AI applications.
“I gained an understanding of the workflow since people usually only see the end product,” said Rao. “But I worked on trials and collaborated with research, hardware and software teams for feedback.”
Growing up with little access to computers in Bokaro Steel City, a small town in the mineral-rich state of Jharkhand, India, Leena Shekhar never imagined she would one day be working on the forefront of self-driving car technology.
Collaborating with our autonomous driving unit, she’s made the most of the experience by developing a chatbot for navigation using recurrent neural networks. The bot finds the best route as per driver preferences and provides a few route choices that drivers can select to navigate. It’s a critical step towards both copiloted and complete autonomous driving.
“It has been very exciting,” said Shekhar, who moved from India last year to pursue her master’s thesis in processing and machine learning at Stony Brook University in New York. “I loved working on AI and this gave me a great opportunity to explore goal-oriented dialogue agents.”
Others, like new-experiences research intern Alexander Majercik, had the chance to travel outside of Silicon Valley. Majercik helped his team with their emerging technology demo on virtual reality at SIGGRAPH, an annual computer graphics conference held in Los Angeles.
“VR research specifically is fundamentally changing the way we interact with technology such as computers, so it’s been very interesting to be a part of a transformation,” said Majercik, a recent computer science graduate of Williams College, in Massachusetts.
Culture of Giving Back
It’s not all coding, programming and data crunching for our interns. Over 85 of them tackled a different kind of project in late July: packaging meals to support “Rise Against Hunger,” an international hunger relief organization.
Supported by the NVIDIA Foundation, the team assembled more than 18,000 meal packets filled with soy, dehydrated vegetables, rice and vitamins, which will be distributed to Pacific Rim countries, including North Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia.
“It’s awesome. I haven’t had a chance to do something like this before,” said Akanksha Bindal, a computer science major at Georgia Institute of Technology, who’s been working on our product strategy team for gaming products.
Bonding at Break Time
Interns also built ties through sports and weekend excursions.
In mid-July, around 300 interns and their mentors sporting NVIDIA shirts and hoodies gathered at Avaya Stadium to enjoy a BBQ and vegetarian dinner and watch a friendly soccer match between the San Jose Earthquakes and Bundesliga’s Eintracht Frankfurt.
Taking every opportunity to soak in the California sun, a few dozen interns regularly coordinated weekend trips through an “intern-excursions” listserv. They hit destinations such as Monterey, Santa Barbara and Santa Monica. Jacob Rampertab, who interns with our Tegra Software team, said his favorite experience was visiting a waterfall near Lake Tahoe.
“We’ve done a lot of attractions, sightseeing and almost everything you’d find if you went on TripAdvisor,” said Rampertab, a mechatronics student at the University of Waterloo in Canada. “We have a good group, so there’s always some subset of people who want to do something.”
It’s never too early to plan your next summer. Find out more about NVIDIA’s internship program.