The challenges and successes of my Internship Experience
July 15th, 2016 by Annie Polashock
My internship experience was at NC State’s ASSIST Center making Wearable Devices. My group has made a hat we called the Huckleberry. It is targeted towards farmers and their livestock to help prevent them from getting skin cancer. We put a Spark Fun UV Sensor on the hat connected to a breadboard. The UV sensor reads the wavelength of the UVA and UVB rays in voltage, converts it to UV intensity in the Arduino using code (in millowatts per square centimeter) and then we also coded it to convert the voltage into a UV index range. Depending on the wavelength and intensity of the UVA or UVB rays, we have a light inside the hat that changes color. We placed the Lillypad light in the peripheral vision of the hat so that the farmer can get an idea of the UV index outside and whether or not they need to put on sunscreen, bring the livestock into shade, or get indoors themselves. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience, but I will definitely say it has taken me out of my comfort zone!
My challenges were:
- Learning the Arduino code for the Arduino Uno and Lillypad. I had just started a course about Java programming at Southern New Hampshire University online when we started learning the Arduino code. Let’s just say I was completely lost at first. However, I saw some similarities between the two. I think the coding experience through NC State’s Maker Space at DH Hill Library helped me with my Java Programming class. Furthermore, my math background really helped me see connections in functions. When it came time to convert the voltage of our UV sensor on our wearable device to UV intensity (in uW/cm^2) to UV index, my Math helped me. Also, the Math helped me figure out my “if then” statements in the code.
- Learning about Circuits. I thought I understood circuits from my Science courses in high school and college. I learned how I might have understood the shallow surface of the course, but that I did not completely understand what circuits were in general until I had to make my own on the Arduinos.
- Working in a pre-assigned group. At first, our group worked really well together. We saw how our different backgrounds could really help each other. However, as we went along, we had disagreements. Teachers have strong personalities and want to take charge. That is a great thing in a classroom. When working together and we have 4 leaders and 0 followers, it is hard to compromise. We ended up compromising though which ended up being a strength later.
- Soldering, sewing, and any other way to get our hat to work. A challenge I had was learning to solder. Working with melting a wire kind-of freaked me out at first. My brother growing up had a lot of experiments with fire that made me want to avoid heat in anyway. However, I learned that soldering is an important experience when getting wires and circuits to stay together through an electrical current. Sewing was another one. We had to sew the RGB Lillypad LED light to our wearable device to show the different levels of UV index outside. We had to use conductive thread to keep an electrical current going. We had to do a simple stitch in the four holes of the light, but in order to get the electrical current to work and the light to actually light up, the thread could not touch. We then had to use electrical tape from the pins on the board to conductive thread on the light.
- Handling the stress of having a lot to do in a little amount of time. Even though the internship at the ASSIST center was 5 weeks, we still found that we had a lot to do at the end in a little amount of time. Tours and speakers were scheduled when we still had to make sure our wearable device worked and submit 2 lesson plans to be edited by the ASSIST center.
My strengths were:
- The talent of my group. My group had a lot of experience and a lot of background in different areas. This helped us when making our wearable device. We found that delegating tasks for those that were better at certain things than others really helped us in getting a lot of stuff done during crunch time.
- My mathematical background helped with the coding. Being able to understand how functions worked helped me with some of the loops that we had to create and code throughout the internship.
- My willingness to learn and ask questions. I was like a sponge. I wanted to learn as much as could in as little time as I could. NC State is an amazing University with so many talented professors and staff. I felt like I was always around the best of the best in certain fields. I felt extremely thankful and blessed to be able to have these people for help and support. It also made me push through my feelings of being out of my comfort zone. Ultimately, I have grown and learned throughout this internship as a person and a teacher.
My upcoming challenge is going to be having the my students program a wearable device throughout this next school year so that they can compete in the One Health Initiative. I am excited and nervous about it, but I have faith in the skills I have learned, the help I can call upon at NC State, and my students who will really embrace the process once they see what they need to do.