ADELPHI, Md. -- Three student interns returned this summer to work at the organization where they first found their passion for science and technology.

Carley Heiner, Jacob Cohen, and Jared Richard spent their summer at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, working in the Computational and Information Sciences Directorate at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

Heiner, who was inspired to pursue a computer science major and intern at ARL due to her participation in the 2016 ARL Supercomputing Summer Institute, was mentored by ARL's Jamie Infantolino.

"ARL played an important part in promoting my first steps into the computer science field," Heiner said. "I always had an aptitude for STEM and computational logic, but my high school did not offer any advanced computer science classes. In the summer of 2016, I had the opportunity to attend the Supercomputing Institute at ARL. The program enabled me to develop my programming skills and gain a better understanding of the numerous applications of computer science."

The projects that Heiner was involved in this summer focus on the applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning in autonomous or self-driving vehicles.

"Autonomous vehicles would have an important impact on the battlefield, as they could reduce the safety risk and energy use for the warfighter," Heiner said.

According to Heiner, if there is one word that could be used to describe what motivates her both on an academic and career level, it would be curiosity.

"Curiosity has always motivated me to dive in to my studies in school and projects at ARL," Heiner said. "Computers mystified me when I was younger, I considered them to be magic. This sense of wonder still drives my inquisitive nature today. I will always be eager to learn how they work and what I can accomplish with them."

Heiner said that being able to work with Infantolino and her research team made the internship an outstanding experience.

"I have been very fortunate to have their guidance," Heiner said. "They have empowered me to learn and accomplish so much in a short amount of time."

Heiner is currently an undergraduate, sophomore computer science major with a math minor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she is also a Center for Women in Technology Scholar.

If there is one piece of advice that Heiner would give to younger generations interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, careers, it would be to challenge yourself.

"It is worthwhile to seek challenges in your studies," Heiner said. "By doing so, you learn more, develop a better appreciation for the subject, and most importantly, build a strong work ethic. Two resources I have utilized to advance my education are: higher-level courses and self-learning websites. Take advantage of any learning opportunities that you can find."

Outside of work and school, Heiner enjoys traveling and discovering the outdoors.

Richard, who was also inspired to come back to ARL after attending the 2016 ARL Supercomputing Summer Institute, is currently studying computer science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Mentored by ARL's Michael An, Richard worked on projects at the lab that focus on a data visualization application that will be used to analyze Army data.

"This application will allow the scientists who are developing Army equipment to better understand how their current tools work and gain insight as to how to improve them," Richard said. "Ultimately, this application will provide more reliable tools for Soldiers in the future."

For Richard, computer science is a field that stood out to him, and is a field that he wishes to pursue as a career in the future.

"In high school, I took classes in many different fields of study, but none of them really stood out to me as something that I would like to do professionally," Richard said. "When I took computer science, it was different. The script felt like a blank canvas with which I could create whatever I imagined."

According to Richard, two things that really made his summer research experience successful were the people and the environment.

"My favorite parts of interning at ARL are the people I work with and the relaxed environment," Richard said. "These two factors together make ARL a fantastic place to learn and work, and make it a pleasure to come back to every day of my summer."

If there is one piece of advice that he could offer to younger generations who are interested in a career in STEM, it would be to get involved as soon as they can.

"If you are interested in STEM, get involved in it!" Richard said. "Pull out a computer, look up some tutorials on YouTube and start CREATING. Any small thing you can create makes you more capable of producing in the future. Learn and create. Knowledge amounts to nothing if you don't apply it."

Outside of work and school, Richard's hobbies include reading, gaming, learning and writing.

Cohen, a third year summer intern, came to ARL as a high school graduate for his first summer internship, and inspired by the work conducted at the lab, applied and was accepted to work in CISD as a Science, Mathematics and Research For Transformation, or SMART, intern in the lab's Defense Supercomputing Resource Center.

Currently a rising junior at the University of Maryland, College Park majoring in computer science with minors in geographic information science and cybersecurity, Cohen was mentored by ARL's Thomas Kendall.

Having had a lifelong interest in technology and computing, ARL has been a great place for Cohen to learn and grow in his fields of interest.

"I have worked on analytic tools for High Performance Computing system administrators, which in turn has led to more informed financial decisions, meaning money has been saved to which may be further invested into helping warfighters," Cohen said.

If there is one piece of advice that Cohen would give to younger generations who are interested in a STEM career, it would be to find what you are interested in early on and plan ahead for your future accordingly.

Outside of schoolwork, Cohen is very interested in movies and is even the co-president of the International Film Club on his university's campus.

By exploring their school and career interests early, these summer student interns were able to experience learning beyond the books at ARL, where they ultimately returned to play a role in the future success of the Army.


The U.S. Army Research Laboratory is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.