After our third internship season in Santa Fe, New Mexico, we start a pilot for the Institute for Computing in Research today (August 2, 2021) in the Portland, Oregon area. We will pay six students to work full time on research for most of August 2021.
Last fall we were contacted by someone suggesting that Portland might be a good place to implement this type of paid internship for high school students.
The Institute’s approach of focusing entirely on real-life research with a mentor (including research in non-STEM areas, and a research-oriented approach to applied technology), largely inspired by the internship experience of Los Alamos National Laboratory, does not have a counterpart in the Portland area, where the many excellent summer opportunities are focused more narrowly on engineering, and do not offer the cross-pollination of an academically diverse scholarly community. In addition, the emphasis on advanced scientific computing, deeply rooted in software freedom, is unique to the Institute.
We tugged at threads in the Portland area and found excellent people willing to design and run a program there based on our blueprint in Santa Fe. They have been helped by well-organized institutions: the Beaverton Round is offering us office space, and the Oregon Community Foundation is funding the Institute’s pilot program.
In addition, scholars at Portland State University, Reed College, and Oregon State University have been invaluable in helping explore the issue of:
how can you craft a well-balanced pipeline of young students that leads to real research?
We will have mentors and guest lecturers from these universities in this pilot program (as well as some far-flung lecturers, since remote lecturing is now a “thing”).
We have had three very successful years in Santa Fe, and we expect remarkable work from these six founding students in the Portland area. It looks like two will work in computational biology, two in natural language processing, one in pure math, and one in AI and game theory.
I myself am in tears of joy as I see all this happening, and I am very grateful to the volunteers who crafted the Portland program, our program manager who is working on site with the students, and the scholars from Portland area universities who are mentoring our students.