Reflection: This Internship has been such a growing experience for me. I've learned the value in both transactional experiences alongside relational experiences.
I've learned how universal a lot of my beliefs are. Not everyone believes in what I do, but it's universally known that you work harder when you have a goal that you yearn for.
All of the lessons I've learned here at River Valley Ranch can and will be used in all of my future challenges, and I'm so blessed to have reached these conclusions so early in my life, because there are some adults still working on it.
Reflection: My internship at the Applied Physics Laboratory has significantly improved my knowledge of the workings of the scientific and technological worlds and left me with skills that will be useful throughout my career. This year, I had my first experience truly working in a laboratory on a consistent project. Thus, I had to learn to plan ahead, work accurately, and react to the results. This process included the research necessary to begin laboratory work, which taught me about several databases and resources used within the scientific world when searching for articles and results of past research. In addition, the laboratory process involved developing the ability to effectively and accurately communicate results and react to them. Perhaps most importantly, I experienced what might be called scientific failure at APL, when my work in the lab did not quite progess as planned. Though I think it is very important to learn to deal with scientific failure, learning to react positively to any sort of failure is a skill useful in any career and life in general. Lastl,y at APL I had the experience of writing an analytical program for the first time. I learned that programming is not a direct route, rather the programmer can be creative and has choices. A program is a personal thing, but must be adapted to be easily used by any person. Thus, my internship at APL has left me with a series of technical and personal skills that I know will make me more successful as a scientist and a person.
Reflection: My internship at APL has introduced me to what I am likely to face in an engineering career better that any typical high school course. Here, I learned that math isn't just used for made up puzzles and mathematical scenarios that your professor sets in front of you and expects you to complete in 15 minutes. APL showed me that math has relevant, real-world applications. For instance, one can use mathematical equations as a tool to find trends in one's data. These trends can then be used to predict future data.
Another aspect of learning in a professional environment such as APL that differs from learning in the classroom is the curriculum: there isn't one. Here, I am not given a set of vocabulary words to learn before a lesson, but when I come across a term that I am not familiar with, I research it. If I don't know how to do something particular like program a GUI or desolder a perforated breadboard, I look at open courseware videos or search for how-to videos on YouTube. It is completely up to me to learn everything that I need in order to finish a project. Testing my knowledge doesn't come with a scantron, it comes with the question: "How efficiently will I be able to perform this task again if I need to?" If my response is, "More efficient than last time," I passed the test.
I believe that the outlook that working at APL has given me on the engineering industry has prepared me well for a technical university, as well as for any career in STEM. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to intern here while still in high school.