Article - Shilpa Bollineni

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This article is an excerpt reproduced from the Summer/Fall 2010 issue of Diversity Careers magazine.

Engineering Internships and Co-Ops are Available for Diverse Students


Shilpa Bollineni interned at NRAO after her MSEE


Shilpa Bollineni is an electronic engineer 3 at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO, Charlottesville, VA), which provides state-of-the-art radio telescope facilities for use by the international scientific community.

She works at the Green Bank, WV facility, developing a new data acquisition system for a forty-three meter telescope used by MIT. “I look at data and analyze it for evidence of pulsars,” she says.

Bollineni got her 2006 BS in electronics and communications technology at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (Hyderabad, India) and her MSEE at West Virginia University (WVU, Morgantown, WV) in December 2008. While pursuing her masters, she worked as a research assistant at WVU and had a paper published.

Bollineni started as an intern at NRAO after she finished her masters. She began working on firmware for the telescope, and got more responsibility over time. By September 2009, she was a fulltime employee.

She was mentored by her supervisor from the beginning. “He would tell me who I should speak to about problems during the project,” she says. “The atmosphere here is very friendly and people are very open.”

Bollineni grew up in Hyderabad, where her father is an engineer. “I was always amazed and fascinated by electronics,” she says. “There were no impediments to my becoming an engineer; my father encouraged me to do what I was passionate about.”

"The co-op program provides opportunities for undergrads to enrich their classroom learning experiences,” says Faye Giles, employment and diversity manager at NRAO. Giles notes that students are mentored and that advisors play an important role in the day-to-day experience. During summer co-ops, participants are encouraged to join other summer interns in attending student-focused seminars on topics in radio astronomy, in addition to participating in social activities.

According to Giles, there is no plan to scale back the co-op program; in fact, NRAO expects to expand it. “Co-ops work on projects that tackle real problems,” she says. “Co-ops bring a fresh perspective and insight into emerging technologies, and the enthusiasm to advance NRAO’s mission.”

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