ITS interns showcase bright futures

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  • L–R: Tasha Torchon, Aubrey Wright, Janel Ilar, and Evan Casement (Photo: Joel Iverson)

It was the largest cohort yet: 47 interns participated in the ITS Summer Internship Program from May 8 to August 10, 2019. Wondering how much they accomplished in 13 weeks?

As it turns out, quite a lot. And it had little to do with running for coffee.

Twenty-two posters were on display at the fifth annual ITS Intern Showcase August 9, showcasing only a fraction of their project work over the summer in areas like networks, user experience design, cybersecurity, communication, and infrastructure. Many of them will continue in part-time appointments at ITS, a testament to their talent and dedication.

“It was great to see how professional and extensive the ITS internship program is, and how much support it enjoys up to the highest levels of the university,” said Michael Nebeling, Assistant Professor of Information at U-M School of Information and Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, College of Engineering.

Professor Nebeling was invited by ITS to examine an augmented reality (AR) project exploring how students could interact with AR in different instructional scenarios. Six of the posters sprung to life when scanned with the AR app that was available to demo on an iPad. The app allowed observers to give feedback with digital post-it notes, then place them on a virtual pin board beside the poster.

Alex Kim demonstrates the Augmented Reality app by scanning a poster to see its virtual elements and post feedback. (Photo: Joel Iverson)

“I think the project was a step in the right direction, and it’s great to see that ITS Teaching & Learning is thinking about the next wave of educational software needs among students and instructors,” said Nebeling.

The event drew in campus IT executives as well. Kerry Flynn, chief information officer at Michigan Ross, attended for the first time. “I was so impressed by the sophistication of the interns and the work they accomplished. What a great opportunity for both the students and ITS.”

Student panelists reflect on their experience

The program included a panel of student interns: Tamariah Davis, Tasha Torchon, Aubrey Wright, Janel Ilar, Evan Casement, and Joe Lisi.

When asked about her impression of the culture at ITS, Janel Ilar said, “It was very welcoming as well as always letting me know that it is OK to contribute. It helped me grow as an intern and [prepare me] for my future career.”


A documentary produced by Mona Beydoun, Olivia Habart, Calvin Shin, and Adam Wright advertises the internship program and helps potential interns understand its structure (see the project poster).

Each of the interns had a mentor as well as a day-to-day coach within the organization. What was the best part of the mentor relationship? “Having a mentor who was separate from my work in the department, and in the intern cohort,” said Aubrey Wright. “There are a lot of things I learned through my work, and finding out how that actually applies to me as a person, and getting another, more focused perspective has been very valuable.”

Joe Lisi said the experience also opened his eyes to the work of IT infrastructure — “potentially more impactful” than the popular notion of developing video games with technical skills — and even sparked his interest in pursuing a graduate degree.

Remarks from the VPIT-CIO

VPIT-CIO Ravi Pendse gave closing remarks and presented each intern with a graduation certificate. He reinforced the power of networking and encouraged the interns to leverage their new professional networks, saying, “Together, we can change the world. Step up and do it.”

In addition to recognizing the interns, mentors, supervisors, coaches, and campus partners, he also thanked the Internship Planning team (its-internship-planning@umich.edu) for stepping up to his challenge last fall to double the size of the program.

Highlights from Twitter