Ryan Cruz (Information Technology)Where did you intern?

Savannah River National Laboratory. Located in Aiken, South Carolina.

  • How did you get your internship?

I was awarded the internship by the DOE-FIU Science and Technology Workforce Development Program, an innovative program between the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM) and Florida International University’s Applied Research Center.

  • What did you do there? What projects did you work on?

I conducted research with the cyber security team at Savannah River National Laboratory on identifying authentication protocols for industrial control systems that uses a digital signature rather than encryption. My project involved the development of a digital signature which was then implemented on a network architectural environment for the Savannah River Site R&D Engineering Department.

  • What was the coolest thing about your internship or that happened during your internship?

I worked with a variety of hardware equipment that are essential for constructing a network such as the raspberry pi, a device necessary for the authentication to occur. I was able to setup proxy servers as part of the network architecture. I got a chance to learn about the python language and enhance my programming skills.

  • What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process?

During the application process, keep communication constant by asking questions you may have to the person in charge of recruitment. Research and learn about the company you seek an internship from. That helps especially during the interview stage because it will show the company that you are interested in the direction they are going. Build relationships with your academic advisor and professors. They will provide you letters of recommendation if you demonstrate excellence in your coursework, respect to others, and being responsible.

  • What did you like most about your experience?

Learning about industrial control systems from my summer mentor, Mr. Robert Barnett, who guided me on the authentication protocol procedures and setting up the architectural design for the network that consists of supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA), distribution management system (DMS), and programmable logic controllers (PLC). I also liked having the opportunity to network with professionals in the engineering field and being a great team player working alongside other interns.

  • What did you learn about yourself?

During the internship, I learned that I can overcome any challenging obstacles that stand in my way by keeping an optimistic mindset and having the support from those that are always on my side. If I can make the right decisions and apply the knowledge I’ve gained over a certain period of time to the next level, I can succeed in any academic or career path I desire. Working at a Department of Energy site made me realize that I want to work for the government someday. I am an individual who is eager to take on the difficult tasks and would like to defend the nation from cyber-attacks in the near future.

  • How did the position increase your professional confidence?

I’ve gained insight on what the professional workforce looks like. Attending meetings, taking notes, being up-to-date with assignments, public speaking, and presenting research are just some of the routines I witnessed and accomplished on a daily basis. My confidence increased significantly when I realized that I didn’t necessarily have to be a complete expert right away in the field I was assigned to work on. Prior to this internship, I only had basic knowledge about industrial control systems. I am appreciative of my summer mentor who taught me that, regardless of the level of expertise an individual may have, you always learn something new every day while working at R&D Engineering due to the many discoveries being made and methods that are constantly changing. Basically, there is no shame in starting as a novice. Along the way, with the proper guidance and significant personal effort, you’ll become an expert.


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