Eugene Wu (WCAS ’17), a physics and mathematics double-major, interned at Argonne National Laboratory this summer. Eugene is interested in hardware design and computer engineering.
Where did you intern this summer? Describe your internship role.
This summer I interned at Argonne National Laboratory as a part of the Lee Teng Undergraduate Fellowship in Accelerator Science and Engineering, a 10-week joint internship between Argonne and Fermilab. I was paired with a mentor to work at the Advanced Photon Source (APS), a synchrotron-radiation light source at Argonne. My project for the summer was to explore the viability of migrating low-level radiofrequency (LLRF) systems at the APS to a microTCA platform (a hardware specification).
How did you learn about your internship? What was your internship search and application process like?
I learned about this internship from the Fermilab website, which lists all of the research/intern opportunities that they offer. The application requires two letters of recommendation and an essay, but there was no interview. There were about 120 applicants this year, with 10 being accepted into the program.
What did you enjoy most about your internship?
During the second and third weeks, all of the interns attended the US Particle Accelerator School in Colorado (free of charge). In two weeks, we took an originally semester-long course on the fundamentals of particle accelerators. We spent about 12 hours a day attending lecture, doing labs, and completing homework. I loved this opportunity because it gave an overview of all of the aspects and theory of particle accelerators that my specific project alone would not be able to cover.
Other than that, we also went on tours at Argonne, Fermilab, and the University of Chicago to learn more about physics and graduate school.
What were your main internship responsibilities – from daily tasks to bigger projects?
The primary goal of my project was to use an FPGA and some hardware to perform noise suppression on baseband (low frequency) electrical signals. I spent weeks three and four getting acquainted with the relevant hardware, the set-up of the lab, and what exactly needed to be done for the project.
After getting a grasp of how the design would work, I began coding the design using VHDL. My mentor would give me different requirements that the design would have to meet, and I would adjust the code to accommodate. After the initial design process, the vast majority of my time was spent testing and debugging my design. At the very end, I had a little time to collect and analyze some data in MATLAB.
For the last two weeks of the internship, I spent most of my time on the final presentation and paper. I presented my findings in a talk at Argonne National Laboratory and at a poster session at Fermilab. I also submitted a final paper on the last day of the internship.