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Overseas Internship Scheme

Enhance undergraduate students’ experiences in research projects

The host institution is the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, which, as the name states, resides in the city of Knoxville of the State, Tennessee. To myself, this is the first city that I had ever visited in the United States, thus Knoxville offered me the very first expression of the United States and made me super excited for the following explorations.


The institution is extremely big which is far beyond our expectations. There are sufficient dormitories, sports facilities, stadium, supermarket on campus, tons of restaurants and the like. It was the first time that I felt reluctant to go from building to another one because of the distance. I appreciate that the organization respects every individual’s eagerness and willingness. When I was struggling with what I was doing and trying to figure out if I needed to change the research topic, the organization showed me full support and guided me into my desired field.



The program is supervised by Dr.Wong, who selected a variety of projects which are supervised by other professors. Initially, we were assigned into different research groups by Dr. Wong based on our backgrounds and later we could communicate with him to change topics or groups.


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Enhance undergraduate students’ experiences in research projects

This Overseas internship scheme in America allows us to choose a project to work on during the whole summer based on our research interests and there would be one or two mentors to guide us into the right direction. Normally, the program would mix the Asian students and the American students together to form a team to enhance diversity and improve learning from each other, which I feel really positive!


On the very first day of work, I got to know my partner of the project and he was super nice to offer me a ride around campus by his cabriolet. In the following weekends, we roasted marshmallows, hiked in the Fort Dickerson, swam in the quarry, cooked out together, hung out in the farmers market, celebrated the independent day of the States… We had tons of exhilarating memories! Besides that, we joined the university teams to visit the stadium on campus, cheered for the kickers and so on.


Other than the above, there was a project poster display session which I think was amazing. So basically around the last two weeks of the program when we already finished our project, we need to make a team poster to represent our hard work, result and something like that. Then the university will collaborate with all the research programs and gather us together to display our poster in order to promote knowledge and cultural exchange. This year, there were more than 60 projects and I talked with a lot of students from other programs which definitely explored my research interests further and get to know more interesting stuff.


I did have difficulties in figuring out my interests and the directions for the following research and in the research project, I struggled with parallel computing to pursue efficiency. Nevertheless, these hard times made it clear for me what I am really interested in and what I need to focus on after graduation.


Well, another difficulty was actually that it was really hard for me to say goodbye to everyone, especially the ones worked and hanged out with me every single day. But a ‘Goodbye’ prepares for the next ‘seeing you’.


Well, in addition to the memorable experiences mentioned above, we visited the most tremendous theme park in the world ---- the Universal Studio. Since, we are super fans of Harry Potter, we had a good time there for 2 full days experiencing escaping the bank, conjuring with magic wands, taking the special train at the stop ‘9 34’ and etc. Apart from that, we danced with the locals to celebrate the independent day for America.


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Since this research really inspired me to think of going to grad school majoring in artificial intelligence in the United States, thus I made some itinerary to some famous cities where some most famous universities reside. However, this journey did not only focused on the education place selection but the distinct culture of the city as well. For example, I had chance to appreciate the modernized conglomerates in the city of New York, especially Manhattan, documented the process of sunset in Los Angeles, visited my friend in San Francisco and also experienced the Universal Studio in Orlando. To myself, it was not just travelling, it was more like free myself open to a diverse environment which might have a profound impact on my future plans. I started to enjoy the culture shock in a positive way and became more clear what I desire to build for my life.


Since I am an amateur illustrator, I drew a digital portrait for one of my colleagues on the last day as a gift for his kindness.


For the first quarter of this program, we had mutual tutorials such as python tutorials, git language tutorials, operating system commands learning session, parallelizing concepts and so on. Through these tutorials, I did have a better understanding what I am going to deal with and how I am going to do with my project.


Since I barely have research experiences, personally, the most significant part of the project for me was to figure out the research plans (i.e. steps to take and the objectives of each step). After figuring out the research plans, we learned the corresponding prerequisite knowledge online and directly apply them to our project. For example, we learned how we can manipulate the arrays with numpy and pandas, keras, tensorlfow and a lot more packages. Besides these technological stuff, I enhanced my soft skills such as communicating with coworkers effectively, presenting our project to the public effectively, parallelizing our tasks efficiently and the like.


The picture below shows the working station we had during this summer.


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It was a quite nice place to work with our own computers.