Guest blogger: Brad Edelman ’93, CTO, Fingerprint Digital, Inc.
When I was an undergraduate at MIT, I learned a lot from my coursework but look back with a special fondness on my UROP and summer internships. MIT excels in the theoretical, and students who combine that with some hands-on experience and real-world pragmatism make amazing employees when they enter the workplace. As such, it’s always been a joy for me to host MIT externships and summer internships. This IAP was no exception. At Fingerprint Digital, we hosted Carrie Cai, currently earning her PhD in computer science at MIT and already an MA in education from Stanford. What an amazing extern for our company in the mobile educational games space!
In just three weeks, Carrie had a wide range of experiences. She worked with our engineers to understand our software development kit (SDK) and did a great job improving our written developer integration guide. At the same time, she developed from start to finish a Hangman word game to use as a sample application to include with the SDK. She also had the opportunity to attend outside meetings with our development partners and gain insight into how technical decisions are influenced by business interests and economic realities. And she offered lots of feedback and ideas for improvement in both the UI/UX and curriculum in our upcoming title, Kid Explorer. She even got exposure to our meetings with current and potential investors.
It was refreshing to experience Carrie’s youthful idealism and can-do attitude. We had a fun discussion where Carrie couldn’t understand why basic audio/video capabilities are taking so long to become true cross-browser, cross-platform standards. Frankly, she’s right. It’s a bit hard to believe that these things can take years when on a technical basis, a solution is not only within reach but already robustly implemented. And we could go from there to talking about Fourier analysis and speech recognition and even a tangential detour into cryptography. She says I remind her of the intense MIT undergraduates—to which I say, right back at her! It makes me reminisce for those days when information came at me like a fire hose. MIT keep up the good work!
The externship flew by, and we took Carrie out to lunch on her last day; we wanted to send her off with a little celebration. We got back from lunch at about 2:00 p.m. and she decided to start a new project. Now that’s initiative! In her last four hours in the office, Carrie produced a video showing step-by-step in XCode how easy it is to add the Fingerprint platform to an iOS application. Her idea, her script, her production—and done in a matter of hours on her last day. The power of youth and the amazing capabilities of an MIT student—what a combination!
Carrie became not just a productive contributor but also a true member of our team. We’re really going to miss having her around.
*Editor’s note: This is part of a series of posts from MIT students and alumni who were involved in the 2012 Student/Alumni Externship Program, which connected current students to alumni in workplaces worldwide during MIT’s Independent Activities Period. Alumni, learn how to get involved. This is just one way for alumni to interact with MIT students. Learn about other opportunities.