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Ebola outbreak provides real-world internship lesson

Ebola outbreak provides real-world internship lesson

Monday, August 24, 2015

James Stigall

When my supervisor asked me what I hoped to achieve at START this summer, I told her that I simply aspired to learn some things and to have fun while doing so. Working with the Risk Communication and Resilience team, I like to think that I have achieved that goal.

I was first tasked with developing a literature review about the Ebola outbreak in Dallas.  Through that project, I gained deeper insight into that incident, as opposed to simply reading about it on Yahoo! amongst a sea of other Ebola-related headlines.  I learned about the timeline of events, starting from Thomas Eric Duncan’s (patient zero in this particular outbreak) misdiagnosis of sinusitis to his death 10 days later and the subsequent fallout.

I then spent the larger part of the summer working on the Training in Risk and Crisis Communication (TRACC) mobile application.  Being a computer science major, this provided a highly beneficial opportunity for me to gain mobile development skills, particularly using the Android development platform.  I was assigned with making cosmetic changes to the existing app and then incorporating a new storyline into the app involving a plane crash.  Through this experience, I obtained firsthand knowledge about the mobile app development process.

My internship at START this summer came by way of a DHS grant from Bowie State University where I am pursuing a doctoral degree in computer science.   Before pursuing my doctorate, I received my bachelor’s degree in computer science with a minor in mathematics from Saint Paul’s College and then received my master’s degree in computer science from Virginia State University.

This internship equipped me with professional skills that I will carry long into my career.  Additionally, I forged new friendships with my fellow interns which made my experience all the more enjoyable and provided valuable networking opportunities.