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100 Years of Co-op Contest Winners

We asked our students to submit their co-op story. Here are the two winning submissions.

Congratulations to Nicholas J. Conn and Claire McKenna!

Claire McKenna

Information Security and Forensics
NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA
June 4, 2012 – August 10, 2012

Who hasn’t dreamed of being an astronaut as a kid? I certainly remember picturing myself exploring the stars once or twice. So of course I was over the moon when I received my acceptance into the NASA Langley Aerospace Research Student Scholars program. I would be getting the chance to work at the organization that put a man on the moon! I was even more thrilled to learn I would be interning with the Information Security team. My ten weeks at NASA gave me a chance to explore the incident response and forensics process and learn that it was something I want to pursue after graduation. Forensics is very much like a puzzle or a scavenger hunt, looking through the information available for any clues that will lead to the answers we need. Prior to my experiences at NASA, I had very little exposure to the forensics process. After a few days of learning from some of the incident responders on the team, I quickly picked up the skills I would need and found myself wanting to explore further. I know now that I will be pursuing a career in digital forensics once I graduate from RIT.

There were many other experiences I had at NASA that contributed to such a successful co-op experience. Every week, the program coordinators arranged for lectures for the summer interns to listen to. We heard from a range of speakers from an Intel Futurist to a NASA Astronaut. We had plenty of opportunity as well to learn about the rich history that surrounds NASA Langley. Langley Air Force Base was originally the site of NACA, the predecessor to NASA. Much of the research and training leading to the first moon landing was performed at Langley as well. Neil Armstrong himself practiced working with the moon lander equipment on base. The highlight of my summer was watching the Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity, landing successfully. A live feed from the control room at JPL in California was set up at the local IMAX Theater and members of the NASA Langley workforce as well as the community were invited to spend the night learning about the mission to Mars and watching the landing. It was an experience I won’t soon forget. I was lucky to be able to experience NASA at such an exciting time for the science and technology fields.

Ultimately, I achieved exactly what the co-op program tries to provide students here at RIT. I was able to gain experience in a topic that interests me and I know now what I wish to pursue in my field. I can come back to classes this year with a focus and drive to achieve my goals.

Claire McKenna on co-op

Nicholas J. Conn

Electrical Engineering
Biotronik SE & Co. KG in Berlin, Germany
June 2010 – November 2010

During the summer and fall of 2010 I worked for Biotronik, an implantable medical device company located in Berlin, Germany. My time at Biotronik was funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), a German national agency which supports international academic cooperation. As an electrical engineering student focusing on biomedical applications, this co-op directly built off of my class work and presented me with the opportunity to gain experience with cutting edge medical devices.

The focus of my project was to create an electronic model of the heart for testing pacemakers and defibrillators. By accurately simulating a multitude of complex cardiac rhythm disorders, my model was able to increase the effectiveness of pacemaker and defibrillator firmware. Years later, my final heart model is still being used for the testing of implantable cardiac devices.

While my work was very demanding and challenging, I enjoyed every day with my coworkers. I believe the attached picture perfectly illustrates the complexity of my work while showing how much fun I had during the course of my co-op. This picture was taken towards the end of my six months at Biotronik while my boss and I were using my heart model to help solve a problem that had come up in clinical testing of new defibrillator firmware.

While I gained an indescribable amount from my time in Berlin, including hands on experience with implantable medical devices and fluency with the German language, what I value the most are the lifelong friendships I made at Biotronik.


Nicholas Conn on co-op



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Did You Know...

The original 12 companies that started the co-op program were:
Eastman Kodak Co.
Gleason Works, Morgan Machine Co.
Ingle Machine Co.
Stromberg Carlson
Rochester Railway and Light Co.
Rochester Electric Motor Co.
City Engineers Office
New York State Railways
Rochester Stamping Co.
Taylor Instrument Companies
German American Button Co.

Today, companies hiring RIT students include Apple Inc., Toyota Motor Sales, Google Inc., NASA, Microsoft Corp., Boeing -- and original partners Kodak and Gleason.