Carnegie Mellon University

Headshot of Devin White

October 19, 2021

Devin White’s Internship Focuses on FHA Software Prototype

When Devin White (CEE/ETIM) was looking for summer research positions, he turned to his advisor and mentor, Assistant Professor Corey Harper, for recommendations. Harper suggested that White apply to the Summer Internship Program for Diverse Groups at the Federal Highway Administration Center for Accelerating Innovation. “Professor Harper said that it was a great way to get experience and expand my professional network,” states White.

Once accepted into the program, White was placed with a team in the Center for Accelerated Innovation—a group with employees working remotely from Atlanta, Virginia, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio. The team’s long-standing remote set-up meant that despite having to work from his own home due to Covid, White had essentially the same work experience that he’d have had working at the Washington, D.C. offices.

His work focused on creating a software prototype to analyze the extent to which employees across the U.S. Department of Transportation were innovating with their teams, network, and stakeholders. “The prototype allowed people to input what they were doing and receive feedback on how they could be more innovative,” adds White.

“Thanks to CEE and ETIM I came into the internship with a strong balance between innovation management and strong technical skills.”

The experience was challenging in that White had to learn the organizational jargon—including many acronyms. “I was lucky to be placed on the project because it worked across many programs and teams. I also got to meet with people outside of team to build additional contacts.” Because the project was so large, it could not be completed in just one summer—which meant good news for White. He’s been contracted to work on it part-time through April 2022. 

White mentions that his CEE and ETIM coursework helped him to serve as an essential member of the project team. He adds that his CEE classes were particularly helpful because they gave him knowledge of Python prototyping and the transportation industry. “Thanks to CEE and ETIM I came into the internship with a strong balance between innovation management and strong technical skills.”

While he missed being in-person in D.C. for the internship, White says that he made an effort to bond and collaborate with his fellow interns via social media. He believes that the interpersonal relationships and work experiences will help him as he works toward his goal of launching a start-up. “I learned about administration and management, as well as how certain professionals operate—there’s a lot of work that I didn’t know engineers were doing,” he says. 

“Getting experience in the public sector will expand my network in ways that I couldn’t have gotten in other internships.”