Programmed for success
Posted on 07/20/2015

McMinnville High School (MHS) students Jamie Graham (pictured) and Patrick Johnson are leveraging their technical expertise into paid internships this summer.  The programming skills acquired through the Computer Science pathway at MHS, as well as the hands-on application of those skills in MHS’s Engineering & Aerospace Sciences Academy (EASA) pathway, provided the pair with the experience necessary for the 10-week program at AutoDesk in Lake Oswego.

“We sponsor robotics championships because we’re always trying to find good talent in the area,” says Andrew Sears, who manages the Oregon intern program for AutoDesk.  “One of the ways we do that is to get them in here early, when they’re in high school or just starting college.”

“AutoDesk makes the CAD software that we use in EASA,” said Johnson, who just graduated from MHS.  “The interns will work on a simulator that does 3-D modeling in a virtual environment. 

“It’s a game simulator for robotics that lets you test code virtually so you can test before starting to build,” he said.

Johnson, who plans to attend the Oregon Institute of Technology in the fall, says he became interested in STEM during the middle school robotics program.  “But I wasn’t lucky enough to get into my forecasted computer classes until junior year,” he said.

Graham, a rising junior, has already spent a summer interning for AutoDesk.  “I was the youngest intern there,” she said.  “Most of them were seniors.”

Like Johnson, Graham found her path in middle school.  “I was into software programming purely because I wanted to code my own games,” she said, describing her first game that featured zombies. “But that was just a phase.”

Now she envisions robotics as her future and serves as lead programmer for the EASA Robotics team, the ISS (International Space Station) nanolab experiment and “other personal projects.”

Photo courtesy AutoDesk.