Advancing San Diego Intern Spotlight: John David Lopez & Candelario Caldera, Paragrine Systems

The Advancing San Diego (ASD) Internship Program launched in Summer 2020 in a remote-capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic and aims to provide up to 100 San Diego-based companies with fully subsidized interns. This program targets companies with 100 employees or less, which comprise 98 percent of all businesses in San Diego, employ nearly two thirds of San Diegans, and account for 70 percent of job growth. A key issue for these companies has been a lack of time and resources to recruit the skilled talent necessary to continue their growth.

As students are closing out their Fall engineering internship experiences, EDC has rolled out this blog series to highlight the innovative local companies that comprise the second cohort of the program, and the interns they hosted.

In this feature, we sat down with John David Lopez and Candelario Caldera, interns at Paragrine Systems. As part of the second cohort of host companies, Paragrine Systems, builds air and ground mobility into single rugged and efficient vehicles. Both Lopez and Caldera are graduating students at UC San Diego studying mechanical engineering and electrical engineering respectively.

Read on for more from John and Candelario.

JDL: John David Lopez (pictured above)

CC: Candelario Caldera


Tell us about yourself.
 

JDL: My name is John David Lopez and I am currently a fifth year (third year transfer) Mechanical Engineering Major at UC San Diego. After graduating from Fallbrook High School, I began my college journey at Mira Costa College where I was then able to transfer to a four-year university in 2018. I am a San Diego native who loves the sun and plans to enjoy living here for as long as I can. When I am not studying, I am involved with Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) at UC San Diego where I have gladly spent my weekends working on collegiate level rocketry. My other hobbies include weightlifting, classic muscle cars, and Legos. Recently, I have had the opportunity to intern at Paragrine Systems, which is an awesome aerospace/defense company that I am incredibly thankful to work for.

CC: I am a third year Electrical Engineering student from UC San Diego. Interning at Paragrine Systems has been amazing. Seeing all the work that goes into the project was overwhelming at first; but I have come to find out that each task plays a key role in getting the bigger pictured finished. Prior to joining the team, I was not sure what turning an idea into a product would be like. It’s been super fun!

How has your experience in the Advancing San Diego Internship Program been, and what projects/assignments have been the most meaningful?

JDL: I have thoroughly enjoyed and have been grateful for the opportunity the Advancing San Diego Internship Program has given me. Interning at Paragrine Systems has allowed me to gain real world experience working alongside professional engineers. My supervisor, Scott Duffy, has been able to mentor me on the engineering requirements and decisions that go into designing an Air & Ground Utility Vehicle (AGUV). My main tasks include packaging the avionics systems on the AGUV, creating a system model for the components to interface, and reverse engineering parts to be utilized in the final design. The most meaningful aspect of my internship experience has been learning to accomplish goals and solve problems in a professional engineering environment.

CC: My internship experience is amazing. Interning at Paragrine Systems has been the best thing to happen to me in term of my professional pathway and career development. I think it is crucial to shadow; it gives you an inside look on how the job is and performed before you even take on a job. This internship has reinforced my motivation for becoming an engineer and has made me excited for what is to come!

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your day-to-day, and what challenges have you faced as a student?

JDL: Adapting to COVID-19 has definitely been a challenge—something I know that many students face. The pandemic has offered me new, interesting opportunities, as well as restricting things I have taken for granted in the past. My school specifically has allowed for asynchronous learning, which gives me the ability to structure my day differently. As a previous commuter student, it has been very nice to not have to arrive at school at 6 a.m. to then leave at 8 p.m. However, something that I have taken for granted has been the compartmentalization the university environment provided. In addition, I have also had to overcome the sense of isolation working from home. Frequent trips to the public park and group calls with close friends has been incredibly helpful, but I am sure we all look forward to the day when the world is back to normal.

What advice would you give to high school students looking for a successful career in the local software industry? 

JDL: I would tell high school students to never stop trying, even when faced with adversity, and to never give in to imposter syndrome. Being a transfer commuter student from a low-income background has definitely created some mental and logistical challenges, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel as long as you persevere.

CC: Continue to be curious!

Learn more about Advancing San Diego and our internship program.

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Meet our Board: Sunny Cooke, Ph.D.

In recognition of Women’s History Month, we are publishing a series of blogs about the women behind EDC—our fearless leaders, our board members, our executive committee, our guiding lights. Up next, an inspiration for women and immigrants in STEM, President/Superintendent of Mira Costa College, Dr. Sunny Cooke.

 

Tell us who you are and what you do. Why did you choose your career?

As President/Superintendent of MiraCosta College, located in North County San Diego, I’m proud to serve 30,000 diverse students with degree/certificate programs designed to prepare them for careers and university transfer.

Defined by uncommon experiences and identities, my purpose is shaped by simultaneously being part of various “minority groups.” For example, I was raised as a Christian in India—a belief only practiced by two percent of the nation’s population.

Arriving in the U.S. during the civil rights movement with only $40 to my family’s name (Indian law permitted $8 per person), we, like many immigrant families, rebuilt our lives. I spent grades 7-12 in a very rural part of the county where my family made up the only people of color… for counties. Being forged in the crucible of life has driven me.

For my family, education is a means of empowerment in service to others. Majoring in biology, I received a teaching credential, and a doctorate in biochemistry and microbiology from Georgetown University. My post-doctoral research brought me to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Shortly after, I was hired by a community college to teach biology/biotechnology as the first faculty of color and the only woman in the sciences. Community colleges open doors for people who have not been included, and my life experiences make me steadfast in my commitment to create truly inclusive environments.

Married to a supportive and patient man for 35 years, as my greatest supporter and life partner, we are proud of the remarkable son we raised.

What does your involvement in EDC mean to you?

Workforce and economic development are central to my career in higher education over the past 25 years. Collaboration in San Diego is most evident in groups like EDC where business, education, and community-based organizations gather to build, grow, support, and sustain our community. Our recent emphasis on inclusive economic development has been critical to ensure historically marginalized communities thrive and are meaningfully connected with opportunities not yet equitably afforded to them.

Community colleges are crucial to inclusive workforce development because they serve as the gateway to educational opportunity helping individuals achieve family sustaining jobs important to our regional economy.

What role do you see women playing across the San Diego region in the next five years?

Because so many of us have been pioneers or trailblazers in areas where women were not traditionally seen, we are keenly aware of what it is like to get there. We most likely can identify with those that struggle to be seen, heard, and included, and most of us can pinpoint individuals who believed in and supported us to become leaders in our respective fields. Our mentors are individuals who have shifted the trajectory of our careers and lives. We have a duty to lift up those that come after us.

Women have had to be strong and resilient. We have learned to partner with ease and shift between leadership and followership. Oftentimes, our compassion, empathy, and desire for connectedness have been interpreted as weakness. Yet, my experience is that when we lead authentically and caringly, we set a stage for inclusive excellence. My hope is that our region empowers and collaboratively works towards the betterment of all San Diegans. Those of us who have benefitted from the encouragement, inclusion, and support of others, must bravely advocate for others who still do not have the opportunity and hope that they deserve.

I look behind me and see future leaders and community builders that I support and from whom I strive to learn each day. As a result of COVID-19, rebuilding our lives, communities, and organizations will require new leadership skills and collaborations.

Share with us your favorite quote.

Two favorites from Mahatma Gandhi:

  • “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
  • “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

What advice do you have for women in business?

You do you! Although it may be difficult in some workspaces and situations, find ways to connect to your authentic self as you lead. Do the interpersonal and intrapersonal reflection required to truly lead in an inclusive way as you address systems and structures that were not designed for the people we currently serve. Seek out allies—progressive leaders (men and women) who share your values, beliefs, passion, and positivity. For me, it’s about creating a just, equitable, and sustainable future.

Follow along with Dr. Cooke on Twitter: @MiraCostaPrez

Advancing San Diego Intern Spotlight: Kailyn King, ZUM Radio

The Advancing San Diego (ASD) Internship Program launched this Spring in a remote-capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic and aims to provide up to 100 San Diego-based companies with fully subsidized interns. This program targets companies with 100 employees or less, which comprise 98 percent of all businesses in San Diego, employ nearly two thirds of San Diegans, and account for 70 percent of job growth. A key issue for these companies has been a lack of time and resources to recruit the skilled talent necessary to continue their growth.

As students close out their Summer internship experiences—and as we recruit a new cohort of companies and interns—EDC has launched this blog series to highlight the innovative local companies that comprise the first cohort of the program and the interns they hosted.

In this feature, we sat down with ZUM Radio intern and California State University (CSU) San Marcos student Kailyn King. A part of the inaugural cohort of host companies, ZUM Radio is a San Diego-based software company that manufactures radio-frequency transceivers for the amateur radio community. King is a computer science transfer student that began her studies at Oceanside’s MiraCosta College and is now in her first year at CSU San Marcos.

Read on for more from Kaylin.

How has your experience in the ASD Internship Program been, and what projects have been the most meaningful?

Applying for an internship through ASD and being connected with ZUM Radio proved to be a seamless transition from my coursework in community college to industry-based work. My supervisor Jim McLaughlin was excellent in relating the skills I had to new applications and opportunities for growth. My tasks included contributions to an open-source Android mobile application, revising a C program for a Raspberry Pi USB device, and writing guides on how to set up handheld transceivers for communicating on-air. Through this, I gained invaluable practical experience working for a project manager under a specific timelines. Above the technical knowledge, I learned the most about how to effectively communicate through email and daily Scrum meetings. Some of my biggest takeaways from this internships were practicing the management of expectations and keeping my colleagues informed about my progress on each project.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your day-to-day, and what challenges have you faced as a student?

Although I am no stranger to spending a lot of time in front of a computer, this new modality of fully-online learning has challenged my ability to dedicate time and energy throughout multiple classes. It is sometimes hard for me to focus as I typically stay at home for remote work and school. I now do my best to diversify my environment by studying in different locations, walking my dog through new routes, and running outside a couple times a week. We are all constantly subjected to the stresses of the pandemic, so it is important to have patience with ourselves as we work to the best of our abilities under these unusual conditions.

What advice would you give to students looking for a successful career in the local software industry?

Recognize that good company is all around you. Communicate often and be open with your colleagues, mentors, and potential employers. Your background, perspective, passion, and hard work will be recognized as you continue to reach out towards new and challenging opportunities.

We’re now accepting applications for small companies in need of business interns! Learn more about ASD and our internship program

Apply here by Dec. 18

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Advancing San Diego Intern Spotlight: Emma Plum, Traits AI

The Advancing San Diego (ASD) Internship Program launched this Spring in a remote-capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic and aims to provide up to 100 San Diego-based companies with fully subsidized interns. This program targets companies with 100 employees or less, which comprise 98 percent of all businesses in San Diego, employ nearly two thirds of San Diegans, and account for 70 percent of job growth. A key issue for these companies has been a lack of time and resources to recruit the skilled talent necessary to continue their growth.

As students close out their Summer internship experiences, EDC has launched this blog series to highlight the innovative local companies that comprise the first cohort of the program, and the interns they hosted.

In this feature, we sat down with Traits AI, Inc. intern and Mesa College student Emma Plum. A part of the inaugural cohort of host companies, Traits AI is a San Diego-based software company that creates animated artificial intelligence (AI) avatars that you can talk to, like you talk to Siri or Alexa. The company develops Alexa Skills, Google Assistant Actions, and chatbots for clients to help them better serve their customers; but its particular area of focus is on AI avatars that put a face to the voice using an animated avatar that looks like and sounds like the person they represent to help them extend their reach.

People are busy, especially those in in-demand professions like law, healthcare, consulting, and more. In these fields, there’s often only one point-person, but thousands of people who want a little bit of their time. While we cannot duplicate or replace those professionals, Traits AI can extend their reach by automating some of the repetitive parts of what they do on a daily basis. This frees them up to spend more time on things that require their unique skill set and expertise.

Read on for more from Emma.

How has your experience in the ASD Internship Program been, and what projects have been the most meaningful?

I enjoyed my time in the internship at Traits AI. My supervisor Brandon was very understanding and flexible with work schedules. My primary projects were working on Facebook Messenger bots/marketing campaigns and email marketing/automation. These helped my understanding of design in marketing greatly, as well as improved my time management skills.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your day-to-day, and what challenges have you faced as a student?

Online learning and the transfer to the online structure has been particularly challenging during this time. Online school is an entirely different beast. Scheduling seems more flexible but between keeping up with everything at home (work, school, clubs, social life), Zoom fatigue hits hard and you have to keep a strict schedule to keep up.

What advice would you give to high school students looking for a successful career in the local software industry?

Be assertive! You don’t know what you don’t know, so reach out to the people who do. Talk to a high school counselor or someone knowledgeable about job opportunities, interview skills, resume reviews, and industry knowledge. Networking can be a gamechanger; go out and email or connect on LinkedIn/social media with industry professionals as you look for advice or job openings. Chase after job opportunities, even the ones you think you won’t get because you never know where you’ll get your foot in the door. Even if you don’t get the job after the interview, that’s a great practice. And don’t be afraid to leave a job if the work environment is toxic.

Learn more about Advancing San Diego and our internship program.

Company contact info and additional information:

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Advancing San Diego Intern Spotlight: Paul Krupski, Perspectium

The Advancing San Diego (ASD) Internship Program launched this Spring in a remote-capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic and aims to provide up to 100 San Diego-based companies with fully subsidized interns. This program targets small businesses with 100 employees or less, which comprise 98 percent of all businesses in San Diego, employ nearly two thirds of San Diegans, and account for 70 percent of job growth. A key issue for these companies has been a lack of time and resources to recruit the skilled talent necessary to continue their growth.

As students close out their Summer internship experiences, EDC has launched this blog series to highlight the innovative local companies that comprise the first cohort of the program, and the interns they hosted.

In this feature, we sat down with Paul Krupski, ASD software intern at Perspectium. A part of the inaugural cohort of host companies, San Diego-based, minority-owned SaaS company Perspectium was founded in 2013 by David Loo, the founding developer of ServiceNow. The company now also has offices in San Jose, New York, and London.

Paul, start by telling us a little about yourself.

I transferred from Oceanside-based MiraCosta Community College to Brown University where I’ll be finishing my degree in computer science with a focus in artificial intelligence and a minor in finance. In the professional world, I hope to work in the fintech sector applying the latest technologies to the financial industry. Interning at Perspectium gave me a firsthand look at how third party tech companies can offer SaaS to companies of all industries, saving them time and money by handling their informational needs. I hope to take what I’ve learned through this internship and use it towards my future of applying computer science to finance.

How has your experience in the ASD Internship Program been, and what projects/assignments have been the most meaningful?

I have had a very positive experience while participating in the ASD Internship Program. The most meaningful projects that I completed while working at Perspectium were instances where I would be directly interacting with several data bases to send and receive information from a web application.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your day-to-day, and what challenges have you faced as a student?

COVID-19 has affected my routine as a student by causing my semester at Brown to be completely online. Although this has been a challenge, I’ve been fortunate in that it has not hindered my ability to plan my academic goals and advance forward to my future career.

What advice would you give to high school students looking for a successful career in the local software industry?

Be an active learner both in computer science and professional etiquette. Be sure to research and practice for the interviewing process.

Get in touch with Perspectium:

Learn more about the Advancing San Diego Internship Program

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Advancing San Diego Intern Spotlight: Anna Kelley, Tourmaline Wireless

The Advancing San Diego (ASD) Internship Program launched this Spring in a remote-capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic and aims to provide up to 100 San Diego-based companies with fully subsidized interns. This program targets companies with 100 employees or less, which comprise 98 percent of all businesses in San Diego, employ nearly two thirds of San Diegans, and account for 70 percent of job growth. A key issue for these companies has been a lack of time and resources to recruit the skilled talent necessary to continue their growth.

As students close out their Summer internship experiences, EDC has rolled out this blog series to highlight the innovative local companies that make up the first cohort of the program, and the interns they hosted.

In this feature, we sat down with Anna Kelley, ASD intern at Tourmaline Wireless. A part of the inaugural cohort of host companies, Tourmaline Wireless is building the future of decentralized wireless telecommunications. The Oceanside-based company provides resilient, off-grid solutions based on mesh networks, 4G LTE, and Iridium satellite.

Tell us about yourself.

Hi my name is Anna, and I was a second-year student at San Diego Mesa College when I came across the ASD internship opportunity. I recently transferred to New York University to pursue a Computer and Electrical Engineering degree.

How has your experience in the ASD Internship Program been, and what projects/assignments have been the most meaningful?

The hands-on experience that I obtained while interning at Tourmaline Wireless exceeded all of my expectations. During this internship, I had an opportunity to get hands-on experience with different programming languages and to work on debugging and troubleshooting software defects. Since it was my first internship in the engineering field, I was worried that I was lacking in technical skills. However, my internship supervisor Paul Victorine was so supportive and he made it so easy for me to participate in all the activities during this internship. It was such an amazing learning experience for me and I will continue educating myself in these areas to grow my confidence.

See Paul’s ASD interview here

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your day-to-day, and what challenges have you faced as a student?

The most challenging part about being a student during COVID-19 was a transition to online learning because not every class can be fully online. For example, my chemistry lab was replaced with five minutes of YouTube videos and it was not the same experience anymore.

What advice would you give to high school students looking for a successful career in the local software industry?

I would recommend participating in different clubs, programs, and getting an internship as soon as possible. This year I participated in several programs with NASA (L’Space Academy and NCAS, all remote) and it was not only fun, but also a great experience that I can put on my resume.

Visit Tourmaline Wireless on web and Instagram.

Learn more about Advancing San Diego and our internship program.