Jovan Yoshioka showed a talent for coding at a young age. In elementary school, using his mother’s book on HTML as a guide, Yoshioka, then 10 years old, created his own website.

Now an upperclassman at Hardin Valley Academy in Knoxville, Tennessee, Yoshioka is a key member of his school’s robotics team and has competed in several code-writing competitions, including CodeTN.

NEXTGENS Participant Profile: Jovan Yoshioka

High school student Jovan Yoshioka gained valuable coding experience as a participant in the Next Generation STEM Internship Program at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (Credit: Will Woodbery/ORISE)

When looking for summer internship opportunities ahead of his senior year, Yoshioka immediately thought of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) research facility whose main campus is located just a short drive away from his high school.

An online search led him to the Next Generation STEM Internship Program (NEXTGENS) at ORNL. The NEXTGENS program provides high school students from East Tennessee counties with opportunities to participate in research projects alongside ORNL scientists and engineers.

Yoshioka applied and was selected to participate in an internship at ORNL’s National Transportation Research Center (NTRC), a DOE user facility that performs early-stage research and development in transportation technologies.

Under the mentorship of Ross Wang, Ph.D., and Gina Accawi, Yoshioka assisted with coding efforts on the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) web application, a project funded by the Federal Highway Administration.

This application takes data collected through the NHTS and creates visual and analytic representations of the data through graphs, charts, summary tables and interactive maps. Federal and state agencies, metropolitan planning organizations and researchers around the world have used the application to discover travel behaviors and trends in the United States and inform important transportation planning decisions and policies.

Yoshioka’s eight weeks at ORNL taught him new coding languages—TypeScript and C# .NET—and gave him a real sense of what a career in computer science looks like.

“Overall, I believe the NEXTGENS program was definitely one of the best ways I could have spent my summer,” he said. “It not only gave me a great experience in coding a large web application, but it also taught me so much about the computer science field of study and whether or not I truly want to continue to pursue it as a career.”

Yoshioka says he would definitely recommend the program to others: “It’s fun, educational, beneficial, and will pay off in the future when you are applying for college or a job.”

He hopes to work in a field of computer science where he can create a product that will have a positive impact on society, similar to that of the NHTS web application.

The NEXTGENS program is administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy.