From July to September 2018, the dlab hosted its second cohort of summer interns via the prestigious Summer@EPFL program. In this blog post, they share their stories and impressions. For more testimonials, check out the 2017 cohort.
Kirill Martynov, master’s student from TU München, Germany. The official motto of Summer@EPFL is “make the most out of your summer.” At the time of application, I thought that it was one of those generic and meaningless statements that are used to encourage applicants. Well, I was completely wrong - as interns we definitely made the most out of our summer! During this past summer, I got to participate in interesting projects at EPFL, go on great hikes and travel all around Switzerland, work on challenging real-world problems with fellow dlabbers, go to music festivals, attend talks by researchers from top universities and companies, play a lot of beach volleyball, collaborate with other researchers from EPFL, enjoy warm days and cool drinks at the shores of Lake Geneva, and most importantly, meet so many amazing people from all over the world. Because what really made this summer so special for me were the new friends that I met here - fellow interns and dlabbers. And I’d like to use this post to say a huge “Thank you!” to all of you. To Bob and Kiran, for being great advisors, for taking so much of your time and effort to motivate, support and help me at every stage of our work. To all fellow dlabbers, for our lab hikes, lab lunches and lab pub crawls, for sharing so much of your knowledge and ideas with me, for the excellent discussions we had about everything - from our work to the production of orange juice. And, of course, to all my fellow interns, for the amazing trips and hikes, football and volleyball games, parties and BBQs, museum visits, and our conversations at lunches, coffee breaks and pubs. I enjoyed sharing all these moments (yes, even time spent in the museums) with you. I’m looking forward to seeing all of you again, and right now I hope that I can make as much out of the upcoming winter as we made out of the past summer.
Lucy Li, undergraduate student from Stanford University, USA. My summer with the Data Science Lab was incredible. Lausanne is a postcard maker’s dream, located by Lake Geneva, opposite to the French Alps, and next to endless hilly vineyards. Sometimes it became too surreal; when it rains during sunsets, double rainbows appear over campus. I went abroad last summer to expand my horizons, and EPFL is an excellent place to do this because it’s an intensely international institution. In our lab alone, I met researchers from Serbia, Italy, Brazil, Russia, Finland, and more, and so this single trip to Switzerland allowed me to engage in research at a global level. The dlab is fun, smart, and welcoming, which made making great memories really easy. Bob is a very encouraging and thoughtful advisor, and I miss the inside jokes that the other interns and I created together. The dlab’s work expands beyond computer science, since the information being studied involves humans, language, and social behavior. My research interests aligned super well with them, and I was able to really take initiative on the ideas involved in my project. One takeaway from my summer was a better toolset for handling large datasets. What I had previously done in classes were really just toy problems, and it was through research that I was able to immerse myself in real and meaningful challenges. My most invaluable takeaway from my summer was a better understanding of my interests and aspirations, and I highly recommend the Summer@EPFL program to future students.
Manoel Horta Ribeiro, master’s Student at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. I had a blast during my summer in Lausanne. Beautiful lake surrounded by mountains? Check. Flamboyant (and supportive) advisor with a bunch of interesting problems? Check. Cool interns, PhD students, and postdocs to hang out with (maybe for a hike)? Check. Jokes aside, I am grateful for all I learned and the friends I made this summer. The program had interns from all over the world, and we hosted weekly barbecues and went for hikes together. The folks at the lab were everything you can expect from co-workers – not only very good technically, but also fun and kindhearted. Lausanne is in a sweet geographical spot of Europe, and you are a train away from interesting cities like Milan or Paris (which you could go on a weekend). My project was super interesting: I, Bob and Kristina (a PhD student at the lab) devised a crowdsourced experiment to simulate how information gets distorted as it diffuses in a network! We had interesting results and managed to write a beautiful 10-page paper which we just submitted to a conference. The Summer@EPFL program enlarged my understanding of research and made me sure that I want to pursue academia. I can’t recommend the program and Professor West highly enough.