ISI Ph.D. Students Land Coveted Summer Internships at Major Tech Companies

by Habeeba Kamel

Ph.D students from ISI completed prestigious internships over the summer.

This summer, ISI’s Ph.D. students are certainly not taking a backseat in the professional world, working on exciting projects for companies like IBM, Apple, and Amazon.  

Mernoosh Mirtaheri and Nina Mehrabi put their computational skills to the test at Got It AI, Inc and Amazon Alexa AI, respectively. Mirtaheri evaluated and improved conversational dialogue flows in chatbots, yes the same chatbots that so many of us have battled with in a never ending loop of misunderstanding. However, not all chatbots are built the same, and Mirtaheri learned how Got It, a conversational AI chat product, leverages consumer data to facilitate seamless and effective dialogue. Mehrabi also got to work with conversational AI, and it turns out Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice assistant, is more than just a catchy commercial tagline. To improve the Alexa experience, Mehrabi worked on multimodal models, a new AI paradigm that integrates various data types to create high-performing systems that can learn about concepts in several modalities.  

Although journalism is perhaps not conventionally associated with AI, Alex Spangher’s internship at Bloomberg, in New York City, proves otherwise. Spangher trained computer models to detect quotes in articles and attribute them to their source. He says, “The end goal is to take steps towards a source-recommendation algorithm to recommend different kinds of sources to journalists as they are writing, based on the information needs of the story.” Perhaps soon, articles like these can be written with the help of sophisticated AI systems. 

Other students embarked on adventures overseas and in outer space for their internships. Taina Coleman prepared for takeoff at her internship with the Aerospace Corporation, where she engaged in space vehicle hardware and software testing, eventually participating in a satellite space launch. For Wei-Cheng Wu, his internship with CEA List, a technological research institute specializing in digital systems, took him across the world to Palaiseau, near Paris, France. While abroad, he enjoyed learning to collaborate with a large research team, a change of pace from working with his smaller ISI cohort. This sentiment is echoed by Mozdeh Gheni, who traveled to Seattle for her internship with Apple and gained insight into how industry research differs from academic research.  

While some students traveled thousands of miles for their internships, ASM Rizvi and Meryem M’Hamdi made an impact from the comfort of their Los Angeles homes. Rizvi worked remotely with the engineering team at Akamai Technologies, a Boston based company.  Stationed across the country from his peers, he helped improve the performance of an Akamai anycast network, ultimately serving the Internet traffic of millions of users. Although M’Hamdi’s role at software giant Adobe was also remote, she was able to visit the Los Angeles office and attend in-person Ph.D. roundtables, tech industry transfers and social hours, providing invaluable professional and personal development that has otherwise been a challenge to achieve in the ongoing pandemic era. Basel Shbita similarly felt inspired while interning at multinational technology corporation IBM in San Francisco: “It’s been exciting to meet many inspiring students, scholars, and industry leaders at IBM. We share ideas and knowledge, and get to learn about new research and bleeding edge technologies” 

ISI boasts a long history of dynamic and diverse research, and these summer internships are certainly no exception. From assisting in space launches to developing conversational AI, ISI’s Ph.D. students are solving real-world problems one line of code at a time. 

Published on September 9th, 2022

Last updated on September 9th, 2022