Growing up in North Royalton, Ohio, Ian Carlin developed a love for computer science. “Ever since I was a kid, I would always be on a computer, whether it was for playing or learning,” he said. “They fascinated me on every level, and when I noticed such high demand for them in the future, I figured that I would find a job that would allow me to be around them for the rest of my life.”
From June until August 2019, Carlin fulfilled his wish by participating in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Scholars Program. The DOE Scholars Program is designed to provide opportunities and attract talented undergraduate and graduate students, as well as recent graduates, to appointments that are carefully designed to help prepare participants toward the full range of entry and mid-level research, technical and professional positions within DOE and organizations that support the DOE mission.
Carlin’s appointment was sponsored by the Environmental Management Consolidated Business Center (EMCBC) in Cincinnati, Ohio. Under the mentorship of Michael Pearson, information technology (IT) operations manager, Carlin contributed to research focused on how to build a large computer network infrastructure for a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) working environment. At the same time, he discovered a new appreciation for organizational culture and what it means to collaborate within a team exercising strong work ethics and values. “Everyone there gave me a helping hand precisely when it was needed,” Carlin said. “The people I participated with loved what they were doing and truly understood what they were contributing to.”
As a third-year student at the University of Cincinnati studying IT cybersecurity, Carlin considered the DOE Scholars Program an amazing opportunity to advance his cybersecurity education while reinforcing his communication and organizational learning skills. “I was able to develop skills that will help me with whatever I do or wherever I go throughout my life,” he said. “A typical day at my appointment would involve reimaging personal computers (PCs), repairing and replacing damaged equipment such as hard drives and iPhone screens as well as assisting other team members with anything they needed.”
Reimaging a PC is the process of removing all software on a computer and reinstalling everything to restore it to factory settings. A reimage is necessary if an operating system becomes damaged or corrupted, or if the system is plagued with spyware problems. “When you wipe or delete everything on your hard drive, that information is still accessible,” Carlin said. “There is a special process of securely wiping a hard drive so that no information is able to be recovered.”
While he was learning how to network computer systems, Carlin was also preparing himself for the working world by closely studying the social and psychological environment of the organization and its culture. “While I was there, the department I was in did a phenomenal job of meeting organizational culture requirements,” he said. “They stated that they would lend a helping hand and teach me everything that I wanted to learn, and this was entirely true from the day I first stepped into the department.”
With his rewarding experience in the DOE Scholars Program behind him, Carlin recommended the program to others who wish to learn what a real laboratory environment is like. “I learned a lot about cybersecurity and networking, and now I hope to earn a position that allows me to continue studying many different areas of technology,” he said.
The DOE Scholars Program is funded by DOE and administered through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE). ORISE is managed for DOE by ORAU.