Devyn T.

January 7th – January 14th (1 hour) –  In preparation for the new year I did myself a favor and refreshed myself on some of the material Wilson and I had covered. Some of things I covered were image reduction, properties of light, and atmospheric conditions. While I won’t be seeing Wilson until tomorrow the 15th, I feel now more than ever that I’m ready for the new year and to tackle the SMART goals I made for myself, I’ve discussed with Wilson, and before the semester is over I can certainly achieve them. The goals I have for myself are to 1.) Complete the entire process of image reduction on my own to the point of reliance, and 2.) Export the entirety of the physical CD’s and DVD’s on a number of flash drives, so they can be uploaded to the database. I’m confident from what I’ve learned already, and I’m excited to start.

From my time working at NOAO, the most apparent skill I’ve learned is to document everything. More than anything, I’ve learned how terrible it is to follow unclear instructions or to try and piece together shoddy work. From digitizing the documents alone, I’ve learned just how crucial it is to be specific with your work, and how critical it is to leave clear instructions, regardless if someone’s following your work or not.

Being punctual about work I feel will always be an important trait to carry for any line of work. Especially in scientific fields, the credit of ones work falls solely on the reputability of the piece. Having poor or confusing work can tank your career, regardless of where you work. I feel that realizing the importance of the quality of ones work may just be the most important thing I’ve learned from my time at NOAO.

Recently, the talk at NOAO has been about funding. With the government shutdown, funds have been incredibly tight, and it’s beginning to become a critical issue. Thankfully however, NOAO has a backlog of checks they’ve written, meaning that the people working there can still receive paychecks until the first of February.

January 15th – January 28th (4.5 hours) – The past two weeks have been stressful around the office for everybody. Due to the shutdown, a fair number of people had made plans for find other work in fear the shutdown would continue for much longer, since the backlog of paychecks NOAO holds would of run out by the 15th of February. Thankfully however, the shutdown has been delayed, so things may just work out before then.

In the office we’ve all been hard at work to finish projects in anticipation of the shutdown, which unfortunately means I haven’t had many opportunities to work with Wilson directly. In the meantime, I’ve been working on finishing my first SMART goal, which is to collect and organize all of the data I’ve processed over the year.
Though it doesn’t directly relate to the industry, the word on everybody’s mind in the office has been furloughed. Though furlough means to take a leave of absence, for people working for the government during the shutdown, it’s meaning now means to leave due to an absence of pay available.

January 29th – February 11th () –

February 12th – February 25th () –

February 26th – March 11th () – 

March 12th – March 25th () – 

March 26th – April 8th () – 

April 9th – April 22nd () – 

July 20th – August 13th (2 hours) – On the first day on site, my mentor, Wilson, walked me through the ODI (One Degree Imager) pieces and some of the common problems encountered while it was operating. Additionally, we had a quick run through on what the ODI was collecting in terms of data. We discussed the methods used to clean the images, to ensure that only pure data was being collected, and how the chips used to process data worked. This opened the door to further study, and allowed me to be more prepared the next time I would come on site.

From the Vail Senior Internship program, I primarily hope to learn what it takes to be prepared for the working world. To know what employers are looking for, what I should expect to overcome in my future, and what I should ultimately do to be prepared for the many years to come. For my time shadowing Wilson however, I hope to learn more about the ODI, what level of college experience is required to work in the field, and where I can find information regarding astronomy. I’m confident that I can advance my understanding of astronomy and engineering to be prepared for any future college courses and work environments. Above all, I hope that at the end of the internship program, I’ll be ready to take the next step, and get a head start in any future endeavors. That I’ll come into college, work, and life prepared for what’s to come.

On the first day of my internship, I had come prepared with information about the ODI and it’s common problems, and going off that information I was able to learn about the core pieces of the ODI, and how they’re maintained. This was an excellent experience because it showed me the importance of planning ahead and going above and beyond expectations. Because of that, I was able to advance further than I expected, and allowed me to reach higher goals and standards. This I believe will be critical in my success in the business world. That coming to work or college prepared and excited will be key to becoming the professional I wish to be.

August 14th – August 27th (4 hours) – While I would of liked to work more hours last week, I was able to make the most of the time I had. Wilson and I met the other members of the NOAO staff while showing me the other rooms of the office. I was surprised to see the incredible diversity of the researchers and engineers working there who were all incredibly friendly. While I couldn’t complete as much work as I would of liked in the office, Wilson had given me a “Cookbook” for the ODI I could study in the time in between my visits, which had been written by him and one of the other members at NOAO. While the cookbook is a technical manual for advanced engineers, Wilson has faith that I can make some sense of the material and I’m sure I wont disappoint him.

August 28th – September 10th (4 hours) – In the past 3 sessions I had the chance to explore more of the NOAO facility and meet more of its staff. On the 5th, I went down to the Optics Lab and met Gary, Senior Optical Engineer, who had been working there for 35 years. Gary gave us a tour of the lab and we were able to install the construction of a 75 thousand dollar filter, which directly ties into my critical question for my senior exit project.

Recap aside, this week I was finally able to start meaningful, hands-on work. Wilson instructed me on image processing, and helped me learn the coding in the Pipeline program. I was also able to start document digitization, which taught me just how valuable the time is of each individual working here at NOAO. The items I digitized were old data logs from the 1991-1994 HYDRA telescope, and through doing this work I truly got to appreciate how valuable digital logging and data collection truly was to this line of work.Here at NOAO, the typical work behavior follows something very close to a study hall. Each member on the NOAO team has an important job, each with their own office where they can work on their specific tasks. Wilson for example, spends his time managing and overseeing the process on the telescope on Kitt Peak, while also managing to oversee data flowing through the Pipeline Program, to ensure the data reaching the researchers is accurate.

The rest of the staff at NOAO is fairly diverse, and while I haven’t been able to observe what exactly other members do exactly, I do know the dynamic here at NOAO is incredibly diverse. There are members from the college campus, new engineers and senior researchers all doing their part on keeping the WIYN ODI telescope running. NOAO I feel is an incredibly unique work space, in which every member has all the tools and space they need to manage the tasks they’re given. For me, that’s perfect. As previously mentioned, it feels much like a study hall, minus the quiet library expectation. The members here are incredibly diverse, all of which are noticeably vibrant and friendly, and most importantly understanding and helpful. Everybody here knows each other, and are capable and willing to help out in whatever way they can.

The only struggle I’ve had so far at NOAO is keeping up with the technical aspect of projects. While I’ve pretty much nailed image processing, I still find myself having to take a double take on lines of code or technical jargon.

Working with Wilson with image processing, the word Bias has been used a lot. An image bias is in all simplicity, what the camera sees before it’s introduced to light. These are the amalgamation of dead pixels, data bleed, and missing chunks. Biases are taken away from the final image using a mathematical equation, formed from the average damaged pixels in the bias.

September 11th – September 24th (8 hours) – Recently I’ve got to work hands on with the reduction process with Wilson. I had the chance to sit down with the Pipeline and manually reduce images taken from the telescope. It was a great time, not only did it teach me about the hard code used, but allowed me to do actual impact work here at NOAO. Additionally, I have been digitizing old historical documents from hand written logs of ODI. This not only has been a huge help for the other scientists at NOAO, but has allowed me to take a peek into the data being collected from ODI WIYN. The manual work also teaches me the importance of digital formatting and data collection.

Recently the big talk around the office was A/2017 U1. U1 for short is the first extrasolar object to enter our solar system. This is a huge event, having it be the first alien object to enter our solar system, will surely draw attention to ODI.

September 25th – October 8th (0 hours) – Unfortunately I wasn’t able to schedule a date to come in and work in the office due to scheduling conflicts from myself and my mentor, but before the break we were able to lay out a plan for the future schedule. Rather than only scheduling Mondays and Fridays for two hours each, we’ll schedule Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for two hours each. While this doesn’t immediately compensate for the hour deficiency, we have a solution. In the coming months before the semester ends, there will be an opportunity for me to do an overnight stay at Kitt Peak, which will allow me to earn more than enough hours for the semester.

At the internship at NOAO, the main form of communication are emails. Though every office is within walking distance, the most efficient way to communicate are through emails and carefully made slideshows. I’ve questioned why they don’t walk from place to place and verbally communicate and Wilson (my mentor) walked me around the NOAO offices to show me how truly large the facility is. Additionally, NOAO communicates 24/7 with the telescopes at Kitt Peak, and by maintaining a consistent feed of communication is key to operations running smoothly. Rarely though, they have been known to use small radios to talk to maintenance and optic lab employees the building over, to keep members posted with updates of construction. Personally I’ve yet to email or talk over the radio to NOAO members, but I have been able to walk to various offices to deliver information .

Thankfully, the environment at NOAO is wonderful, and I have no problem communicating with any of its’ members. While I haven’t had any reason or chance to communicate with members for work related reasons, they have been very lovely to talk to. For example, I currently work on digitizing documents, and this has me working on a small computer with a document scanner, which often gives me a few issues. when it starts acting up, one of the new members of the team has offered to help, which I frequently ask for. To do this I lightly knock on his door and ask if he has a few moments to spare to help with the computer, which has been a huge life saver.

One of the terms I’ve heard used around the office recently is the ODI Portal. While I have mentioned the ODI Portal before I hadn’t elaborated on it before. In short, the ODI Portal is a website dedicated to the reduction of images, and features a algorithm that does the laborious work of image reduction automatically. The ODI Portal has been immeasurably useful, and I have had the personal experience of using it to create one of my own reduced images.

October 9th – October 22nd (44 hours) – With the staggering amount of hours I’ve worked in the past two weeks, I’ve learned a good lesson about scheduling and communication. Firstly, in a panic I worked extremely hard to meet the hour requirements, and managed to sort all of the physical documents that needed to be digitized, and have now started to check DVD logs to see if their information is correct. Doing the amount of work I had to do took an incredibly large amount of time from my personal life, and taught me the importance of managing my time and keeping informed of the schedule in the grand scheme of things. Now in the future, I can be prepared for the year to come, and manage my time efficiently so that I can not only meet the hour goal, but exceed it. Additionally, my site visit went wonderfully, and I’m glad that I was able to showcase the work that I had been doing and proving that I had been working hard.

Now that I’m done digitizing the hand-written documents, I’ve started verifying the CD’s and DVD’s, and have had to identify Fits files. Fits files are in simple terms, the file in which large-scaled telescope images are tuned down so that observers can make observations and draw conclusions. The fits files have been compressed on to CD’s back in the 90’s, and were eventually up scaled onto DVD’s. Now I’m going through and identifying the fits files on both, and making sure they match and that they’re readable.

October 23rd – November 5th (4 hours) – Recently, Wilson and I have been working together on getting a program called Mosaic working. Mosaic is a program that allows the stacking of images, and will allow me to complete work from home. Getting the program working has been a huge struggle, and has caused more than a few problems at home troubleshooting. Working with Mosaic has taught me the importance of good design, and the importance of making a well comprehended system. This has impacted the work I do, allowing me to perform the best work I can.

In the office, there aren’t very many opportunities to talk to my co-workers, let alone see them. Recently however, I got to meet some of the people working on the programming for NOAO. I didn’t catch their name unfortunately, but I was able to talk a bit about the blackout, and what it had done to the telescope. Long story short, they had to re-code an entire program, because the lack of power injected junk code inside the whole system, making it unusable. They also showed me around inside the server room, and told me if I ever had any problems with the computer I work on, to come to them. This was a fantastic experience, proving the importance of making a good bond with your co-workers, and making friendships within the workplace.

Fortunately, I had met some of the NOAO employees previously. My step-father works for the observatory across the street, and occasionally they have get-togethers once a year. I had met Wilson for the first time when I was about twelve when Wilson first came to work for NOAO. I had also met Heidi, the on-site manager there as well. Now that I’m working for NOAO, a lot of the staff feels a lot like extended family, and knowing them on a personal level adds to the work experience, and allows me to fluidly convey ideas and speak freely.

As mentioned previously, Wilson and I have been working with Mosaic. Mosaic is a program that compiles, and adds the collection of images taken from a telescope in a sitting. The program works with telescope specific files that can store images, as well as raw data. Mosaic is free, and can be downloaded for public use.

November 6th – November 19th (4 hours) – Since I’ve completed my required hours, I’ve been able to spread out my visits more efficiently. Often I would find there was nothing new around the office, and the day would consist of mainly scanning documents and verifying discs. Now that I’ve been coming in once a week, there’s been more for my mentor and I to discuss, and a significant increase in advanced work I can do. Until the new semester begins, I can come in the office when my mentor needs me, as to make the meetings have more meaning, and allow me to help my mentor in more useful ways.

As of the time writing this reflection log, it’s past the due date, and I feel that reflects poorly on the perception of my performance with my internship. It’s never been my intention to miss a deadline, or to simply shrug an assignment off, and I’ve made sure it’s never happened at my internship site. My mentor and I work wonderfully together, and I haven’t had a better experience in a professional environment, and I feel that if I keep up the pattern of barely missing deadlines, it won’t translate well into the real work world.

The last thing I’d want is to disappoint the people who put their faith into my performance, I’m lucky I’ve been given the chances and opportunities to continue my work in the internship program. I’ve kept my mentor informed every step of the way, he’s as familiar with the program as I am, and what I value most, is that he’s aware of how hard I work, and of my good work ethic. I think I’ve made my mark in a good way.

To be completely honest, I’ve made a complete blunder of my first semester. I wasn’t properly dressed for the interview before I was accepted in the program, I barely met my semester hour requirements, and now I’m submitting a reflection log late. More than anything, I’m disappointed in myself. I used to brush those off as problems with the program, blaming my defeats on “poor instructions” or “not finding dates/links” but it had recently dawned on me, that’s my responsibility, that if things are confusing, it’s on me to worry about it, and to fix it. I look on my mistakes with great shame, knowing that not only had I let myself down, but my mentor, and the internship program directors. I won’t make excuses, and I won’t ask for mercy, but what I can do is prove to my directors, my mentor, and to myself that I won’t make the same mistake twice, that this will be the last time I let anybody down.

A recent splash in the news lately has been about Oumuamua. Oumuamua is the name of the asteroid U-1, which I had discussed in a previous reflection log. I bring Oumuamua up again because of the theories that have been circulating about its possible alien origin. Oumuamua is now a running joke around the office, because of how a simple asteroid has been turned into a alien space craft by the media. My mentor and I went over the basics of U-1 again, and to recap, it’s simply an extra solar asteroid which came from an unidentified solar system.