Internships at two national labs yield plenty of experience

Matthew Krebs, a student at College of DuPage, has internships this year at two national laboratories. (Photo: COD)

College of DuPage (COD) student Matthew Krebs is spending 2018 at two national laboratories, gaining critical experience for a career in computers.

After working during the spring semester at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where he was the only intern from a community college, Krebs is now interning at Argonne National Laboratory. Both are providing opportunities to apply skills he gained while taking courses in the computer information systems program at the Illinois community college.

“It’s been fun and I’m learning so much,” Krebs said. “At Los Alamos, I had opportunities to attend talks at the lab and learn about new things, such as the idea of sending a nuclear reactor to Mars.”

Krebs applied for internships through the U.S. Department of Energy and initially hoped to find one at Argonne or Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. In December, he was contacted for an interview and then secured an internship at Los Alamos, where he spent most of the spring semester working on the lab’s augmented reality project, which blends computer-generated images into the real world and could support national security initiatives.

“I was using C# and Unity to work with Microsoft’s augmented reality headset called the HoloLens,” he said. “I was lucky enough to work with a scientist who became a great mentor and gave me a side project that helped strengthen my knowledge and skills. I also was invited to sit in as an undergraduate on the Advanced Studies Institute, which is for Ph.D. students and postdocs. I helped them write the proposal for treaty verification for artificial intelligence.”

Krebs also completed three online courses at COD during his time in New Mexico before returning to the Chicago area and starting his internship at Argonne, where he currently is working with robotics on an augmented teleautonomy project.

Upgrading video games

Krebs’ interest in computers started when he received one at age 8 in order to play video games.

“As I grew older and the games began to progress, my computer couldn’t handle it,” he said. “I decided I needed a better computer, but being a young kid, I couldn’t afford a computer. Instead, I asked for a new graphics card for Christmas since it wasn’t nearly as expensive. I installed that new card and everything was great. After a while, the processor began to cause issues, so I upgraded the processor, motherboard and RAM. This fixed my issue, and from that point on, every Christmas I would ask for a new part and rebuild my computer.”

Although he loved computers, Krebs was unsure of a degree path to choose and was mindful of his finances. He initially dropped out of school due to a lack of interest but then selected College of DuPage, where he is working toward his associate degree in application and technical support specialist and taking advantage of the 3+1 program with Lewis University to earn his bachelor’s degree.

Although Los Alamos has invited Krebs back for an internship next summer, he instead would like to find one at a company in Silicon Valley, California, in order to gain experience working in the private sector. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he would like to work as a software engineer on groundbreaking technologies, whether at a national laboratory or a major corporation.

Krebs credits his time at College of DuPage for providing opportunities to pursue his passion for computers.

“In every computer class I’ve taken at COD, I am going far beyond the material being presented. That’s because I study with fantastic teachers and mentors,” he said. “Without professors like these, I wouldn’t be enjoying the experience nearly as much.”

About the Author

Brian Kleemann
is a senior writer in the public relations and communications office at College of DuPage in Illinois.