For my January 2017 Princeternship, another Princeton student and I spent a day at the MITRE Corporation in Bedford, Massachusetts. The MITRE Corporation is a not-for-profit, largely government contracted company. It is at the forefront of research in many fields and provides services over a range of areas, though the majority of its resources go to defense work for the United States Air Force.
My host was Kristin Fitzgerald (Goehl), Class of 2016. I believed this was a great fit for me as I am a prospective operations research and financial engineering (ORFE) major and she is one of the most recent graduates of the department. Having been there for less than a year, it was especially great that Kristin could connect us to such interesting people within MITRE. These included another 2016 Princeton graduate (MAE) as well as the Vice President of the Air Force Program. I learned that MITRE does things that I did not expect, such as assessing risk in relation to youth in foster care, in addition to their advertised involvement in defense.
My first goal entering my Princeternship was to determine if I want to continue studying ORFE. During this experience, I learned multitudes of ways that the data science aspect of an ORFE education can be used. Each one of these applications deepened my interest in ORFE much more than I expected. It was certainly a pleasant surprise. What I did not expect to gather from this experience was a potential purpose for my career. Because MITRE is a not-for-profit company and is government contracted, its work is done in the public service. Whether helping foster kids escape certain risks or helping to defend our nation, everything is done for the good of someone else and not for personal or corporate profit. It was certainly noticeable that MITRE employees were passionate about their work, especially the VP of the Air Force Program. I learned that this is the mentality I want to carry through my career.
In addition to these data science applications, we were also allowed to look at certain computer science and programming applications in such fields as virtual reality. However, we were not allowed to see the most interesting projects at MITRE because of their sensitive nature. While there, we had to wear “ESCORT REQUIRED” badges, a neat experience in itself.
Shadowing at the MITRE Corporation for a day showed me how all the technical and theoretical skills I may learn as a Princeton engineer could be applied in a real-world situation. Whether it be in STEM, humanities or anywhere in between, I encourage all students to look into the Princeternship program to see what incredible work is available at the end of an enlightening Princeton career. Finally, I would like to thank Kristin Fitzgerald for her time and willingness to host us at MITRE and give us a great experience.