Graduate student lands federal internship

University of Houston-Victoria computer science graduate student Trang Huynh will spend her summer interning at one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories.

Trang Huynh

“This is a such a great opportunity,” Richmond resident Huynh said. “I am so happy and proud to be a UHV student, and I look forward to learning so much through this summer internship.”

Huynh was selected for a 10-week internship with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories. The lab is located in Richland, Washington, but Huynh will be working remotely for her internship. She is the first computer science student from UHV to be selected for a Department of Energy national lab internship.

“This is a tremendous learning opportunity for Trang and an exciting opportunity for UHV,” said Craig Goodman, interim dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “It also highlights the critical role our faculty in computer science play preparing and mentoring graduate students so they are ready for these opportunities.”

Craig Goodman

Huynh is studying to get a master’s degree in computer science. She has a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Houston and previously worked for an oil and gas company in the Houston area. After the pandemic hit and Huynh was laid off from her job as a maintenance engineer trainee, she decided to go back to school and earn a degree in a field that could add skills to her engineering background.

“Most industries now involve more technology, including machine learning, artificial intelligence and using computers,” she said. “I would love to combine my knowledge and experience with petroleum engineering with computer science to make a good future path for myself.”

Huynh found out about the federal internship from Hardik Gohel, a UHV assistant professor of computer science. Gohel recommended her for the internship because of how well she performs in class and her background in engineering, he said.

To apply for the internship, Huynh had to submit a variety of documents, including a resume, transcript and essay. The essay focused on her educational and professional background and what she would like to do after she earns her master’s degree. In addition to her job before the pandemic, Huynh had an internship at a chemical plant while she was an undergraduate student.

Hardik Gohel

“Trang is a very strong student and one of the best students I have had,” Gohel said. “She learns quickly, and this internship is a great opportunity for her.”

As the computer science program at UHV grows, Gohel is looking forward to more students enrolling in the program and learning about critical computer science skills, including data science and artificial intelligence. With these skills, students can be candidates for a variety of federal internships, he said. One of Gohel’s goals is to establish a program that will help students prepare for internships and careers with the federal government.

“The skills we are implementing in the classroom are a good match for students who are interested in those fields,” he said. “Trang will be able to share her internship experience with other students, and those students can learn from her experience and be inspired to apply. It is an honor for UHV to have a student in this type of internship, and I am excited to see more students apply.”

Although Huynh’s internship is for 10 weeks, she could be working on projects for the internship for a bit longer, she said. Huynh expects to graduate in 2022, and although she does not have a specific job in mind, she is excited for a career path in oil and gas where she could use all her skills and educational background.

“I am thrilled I was given this opportunity, and I am excited to start,” Huynh said. “I want to say thank you to Dr. Gohel for such a great opportunity and for his all his hard work. I know I will learn so much from this experience.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Amber Aldaco