Logo: University of Southern California

Research Interns Picnic in Archimedes Quad

Eric Mankin
July 08, 2009 —

The Viterbi School Summer Intern Program brings top undergraduates from leading universities in the US and the world for intensive research work with faculty. This summers' crop gathered July 8 for burgers, hotdogs and conviviality.

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Research internship facilitator Tracy Charles checks in an undergrad. To see a picnic slide show, click on the image.
The overseas students included twelve from China's elite Tsinghua Unviversity. Funding for the Tsinghua students was provided by Mr. Feng Deng, a Tsinghua undergraduate alumnus who obtained a masters degree in computer engineering at USC in 1993 and went on to a highly successful career as an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley.  Today Deng and several partners run the North Light Venture Capital company.

The Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur, one of India's top engineering schools, sent 10 students, funded by by Mr. Vinod Gupta, an IIT-Kharagpur alumnus who founded InfoUSA.

Finally a delegation came from Korea Aerospace University (KAU), a university with a unique focus that provides engineers and business graduates to Korea's aerospace and astronautics industries, defense establishment, and airlines.

This is KAU's first year participating in the program. The Viterbi School already collaborates with KAU on aerospace-related research projects sponsored by Korean Airlines, Airbus and General Electric. Korean Air Chairman Dr. Y. H. Cho is a USC trustee who is also chairman of the board of KAU.

American participants apply individually for 20 openings, carrying a modest stipend, and this summer's group included students from Princeton, Carnegie-Mellon, the Universities of Michigan and Minnesota, and others. Funding for the American students is provided by the National Science Foundation. 

Interns do not receive academic credit. They do go home with certificates of participation, and valuable experience on how to conduct academic research.  Most of the foreign students noted that this internship has been their first opportunity to actually conduct engineering research, and that they were excited to finally have the opportunity. 

All of the foreign students intend to apply to masters or PhD programs at American research universities, and most indicated USC will be one of their choices.

Summerscholars 9Some 26 Viterbi School faculty members, from every department in the School, mentor the participants, who receive no formal academic credit, but do receive certificates of participation. Many joined the students around the tables.

Viterbi Dean Margie Berti mingled with the visitors in the USC sunshine, along with intership facilitator Tracy Charles, and a good time was had by all.