This summer, the Vulcan Impact Team welcomed 10 interns to join projects for 12 weeks. Coming from a variety of backgrounds, each one of us has come to Vulcan excited to join our respective projects and be a part of the impact taking place at Vulcan.
By now, many of us have gotten to know our team members and stay up to date with the different projects going on around here. And while we’ve been able to meet others throughout Impact, whether in passing or over a coffee, we wanted to take this chance to share more specifics about our projects and what we’ve appreciated most so far.
Thank you to all who have been supporting the impact interns throughout the summer. Our managers, mentors, and teammates have been what makes the internship such a great learning experience. We hope to carry this experience through to our next steps in life wherever it takes us!
Here are some of our responses to our get-know-you questions!
What are you up to this summer?
I am working on Skylight. During my internship, I’ve been digging into vessel data, conducting interviews with AIS experts (“AIS” a communication system used by vessels globally), and testing what’s working.
Nam Kolla, intern on the Skylight team.
: I am developing several explorations within the Impact Incubation team related to environmental conservation.
This summer I’m working on flight controls for the Drones team, who’s developing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for conservation. The main focus of the group has been to stop poaching of African elephants. I’m also the unofficial Drones Team representative at Vulcan-sponsored social events this summer — it’s a role I take extremely seriously.
My intern project is doing vessel fleet analysis with the Skylight platform. I am analyzing vessel data with the goal of grouping like-vessels defined as “fleets” based on similar behavior, attributes, and regulations, with the goal of informing diagnostic fleet behavior and adding value to Skylight partners.
My project focused on conducting user research to understand where SkySat imagery could fit into the Allen Coral Atlas. After interviewing coral scientists and reef managers around the world, I found impactful use cases where SkySat imagery can help support coral conservation efforts.
I’m working as a Product Strategy Manager on the Skylight team. I’m evaluating commercial opportunities to enter the commercial seafood sector to help improve seafood supply chain sustainability.
I am working on developing and validating suspicious activity detection models for maritime compliance on the Skylight project.
What's been your favorite memory of your internship?
Vulcan interns, summer 2019.
For one of my [customer] interviews, my manager Rex and I took a field trip to Lunde Marine Electronics in Ballard to better understand how unintentional technical errors may look different from intentional spoofing in our data. It was fun to actually see and touch some of the AIS equipment for myself, and it turned out that our interviewee sat on the board of the association that manages marine communication protocol. We learned a lot on that trip!
Without being too cheesy — the entire summer has been so incredible, it’s honestly so hard to choose one [memory]. One of the top few has been going out to the field to flight test vehicles I’ve been working on in the lab and getting to learn about all of the different things people are working on in [the Seattle Vulcan office] alone.
Favorite memory would have to be the [Allen] Coral Atlas master class — learning about how different groups approach impact and use partnerships to foster good was really neat!
Daniel Chang, intern on the Allen Coral Atlas team.
Pride at Vulcan was such a fun, high point of my summer.
Hard to pick one… I’ve enjoyed getting to know and learn from Vulcan experts about many diverse issues. Also, the straws [that spelled "summer"] from the [Vulcan Connect] meeting.
The Allen Coral Atlas master class was a very cool overview into a Vulcan success and window into relationships with partners.
What does "impact" mean to you?
I joined Vulcan to have an “impact” on the environment and, for Skylight, I define that as concretely reducing the amount of illegal fishing happening globally. I have not had any direct impact in my few weeks here (and didn’t expect to), but I can see the direct connection my work has to the future impact of this product. And that’s very exciting!
Impact means the proven, measurable, and critically evaluated social or environmental benefit of a product, campaign, intervention.
It’s about listening to those on the ground about how we can support them. It’s not being afraid to ask questions that don’t have clear answers. It’s about creating meaningful solutions to large, complex problems. It’s about doing these things in order to make our world a better place to live for all of us.
Sierra Adibi, intern on the Drones team.
Impact, to me, simply means a net positive influence. When determining if something creates impact, I ask the question, "Would this scenario have been worse if we had done nothing?" No matter how small, I like to believe small steps can move things forward.
Impact, to me, is addressing the most immediate need at the given time.
Affecting the trajectory of something external. Grad school has been a great time for me to explore how to best use my skills and experiences to drive beneficial impact at scale.
Impact to me means working on projects that will grow and be carried forward, because they are making a meaningful difference in the conservation and preservation efforts that are in the interest of all of us.
What is a big goal you have?
I want to be able to show my direct contribution to increasing biodiversity in a specific part of the world. My “retirement” plan is to operate an animal sanctuary.
I’ve always wanted to found “Risky Biscuits Inc” and disrupt the Big Biscuit dominance (Pillsbury, I’m coming at you).
I want to spend an entire year traveling the world, immersing myself as much as possible in different cultures.
Right now, my primary goal is to complete my master’s degree in data science and use it to solve ecological issues facing the world today.
Amanda Phillips, intern on the Skylight team.
Visit all seven continents.
Adopt a dog (hoping to achieve by the time I graduate next year!).
I want to finish my graduate degree and, even though I am leaving academia, to continue to contribute to the overall body of human knowledge and understanding through my work.
Favorite snack in the kitchen?
Dried mango slices.
Fill one Vulcan Impact glass, start from bottom, with: 2/5 salted nuts, 2/5 banana chips, 1/5 apricots.
Cashews and banana chips on the 11th
floor are delicious and always in stock. If you’re lucky, there might be sour gummy worms or peanut m&ms.
9th floor dark chocolate almonds, the perfect mid-afternoon energy boost.
Katie Sierks, intern on the Skylight team.
Pistachios, even though they can be a bit messy.