Welcome to Brooklyn: Summer is Intern Season

2017-07-27 · Posted by: Lois Anne DeLong · Categories: UptaneSeattleLindin-totoAtoms of Confusion andCrashSimulator · Comments

Over the past few weeks, SSL has welcomed a diverse group of summer interns to 2 Metrotech. A total of 11 undergraduate, master’s, and high school students are now conducting hands-on research in advancement of eight different lab initiatives. Drawn from three different NYU campuses, and a number of other academic institutions, the interns are tackling real-world projects ranging from the design of a compromise-resilient update framework for devices on the Internet of Things to learning more about kernel paths in order to design safer virtual machines.

This post offers a brief introduction to a few of the interns. In future posts, the interns themselves may be sharing some insights on their projects and lessons learned from their summer in Brooklyn.

Shikhar Sakhuja and Cynthia Xin Tong, both rising juniors, come to us from NYU’s Shanghai and Abu Dhabi campuses, respectively. Shikhar found himself in the somewhat unique position of serving as lab spokesperson shortly after his arrival, as he worked with Dr. Trishank Karthik Kuppusamy in crafting a lab response to a request for comments issued by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). He will be researching issues related to the design of secure software update systems for the Internet of Things. Cynthia, who has experience in doing web development, was given a brand new design challenge in her work with the Seattle project. She is investigating current-day DHTs (Distributed Hash Tables) for their use as key-value stores. As the summer progresses, she will be designing a library for the RepyV2 sandbox that can interface with the DHT lookup system.

Current NYU Tandon students Parina Kaewkrajang and Yu Zhang are no strangers to the Brooklyn campus, though Parina mentions it is “somewhat strange to be running into professors all the time” now that she is on an administrative floor. Parina, who will be entering her junior year, described her research task on the Lind project as “analyzing the kernel to secure it.” Yu, a rising sophomore, and a native of Shanghai, is working on the Atoms of Confusion project and has been helping with a new iteration of an online study.

Three of the new interns join us from the Indian Institute of Technology. Shikher Verma is a senior at the Kanpur campus of this institution, while Sachit Malik and Yash Gautam are from the Delhi campus. Shikher and Sachit are both working on aspects of the in-toto project, while Yash is working on Lind, examining function calls between shared libraries.

For Ryan Patton, a Long Island native and rising senior from Williams College in Massachusetts, his summer at SSL is a chance for more hands-on exposure to research. As a predominantly liberal arts school, Ryan describes his CS program at Williams as “theoretical.” However, he was somewhat surprised when he initially found himself working on “30 year old kernel code.” His research on the CrashSimulator project, a sprouting technology at the lab that simulates real-world conditions for testing new application, is Indicative of how newer systems are often built on old legacy code.

Several of the interns have expressed appreciation for the “approachability” of the professors in the department, and the helpfulness of the graduate students with whom they are working (Santiago Torres-Arias, YiWen Li, Preston Moore, Trishank Kuppusamy, Dan Gopstein), along with research professor Albert Rafetseder (Seattle, Sensibility) and staff developer Lukas Pühringer (Seattle, Sensibility, and in-toto).

Also joining us this summer are Christopher Lo, Shiv Lakhanpal, and Brandon Zhu.

Though it was still early in their stay when interviewed, almost all the interns had already experienced some surprises. Parina was somewhat amazed at how much time is spent “looking up things you don’t understand on Google or Stack Overflow,” a point that many of the interns agreed with. For Shikher, the surprise was the potential immediate impact of his work. As a physics major at IIT, research meant “working on something that would be applied 150 years from now.” The idea that the work he is doing today could be implemented in a matter of weeks or months was an appealing realization. Sachit agreed with this assessment that it was a different experience to be “working on practical things that could be deployed so quickly.”

On a somewhat more personal note, Sachit observed he was surprised to find a piano over at Metrotech. He has been enjoying the chance to play the instrument in his spare time. While improving piano skills isn’t the goal of the internship, Prof. Cappos is supportive of students branching out. “Having diverse and unique perspectives helps us to tackle a problem in a different way.”