Name: Melissa Ortiz, Intel Intern
Degree: San Jose State University, B.S.
Computer Engineering, May 2017
Division: New Devices Group, Santa Clara, CA
I recently caught up with Melissa Ortiz, who recently went to London and Paris with her team. Here, she shares with me her experience on the team that attended Paris Fashion Week and showcased a prototype of wearable glasses that detect biometric data.
Q: What projects have you been able to work on during your internship at Intel?
A: In June, I started my internship with the New Devices Group (NDG). My first project was research oriented, and it focused on non-invasive medical devices. Next, I worked on a head device that detects various biometric data. For this project, I assisted in developing and maintaining the main infrastructure for the project. I also helped with the development and validation of our algorithms. Throughout these various projects, I had no idea that in a couple of months I’d be going to London and Paris for Fashion Week!
Q: Tell me about your experience at Paris Fashion Week. What was your role on the project?
A: In London, I provided general assistance with the project and provided root cause analysis of any bug that occurred so we could successfully demo our prototype to the fashion designer we were working with. On the actual day of the show, everything was chaotic and fast paced – I loved every minute of it! The models each wore glasses that detected their heart rate, respiration rate, and brain wave signals. This biometric data was then transmitted to the belt that they were wearing via Bluetooth. The belt then provided a real-time visualization of flowers opening and closing based on the model’s stress level. It is amazing what you can capture and visualize from the human body. Currently, we have a patent pending for one of the algorithms, and my name is on the patent.
Q: What were some things you learned during your experience?
A: I learned that I really enjoyed working under pressure – it’s thrilling! I used to be a Division I NCAA student athlete, so I live for competition and the thrill. The difference here is that for you and your team it’s a competition against the clock – Can we get this project fully functional in time for a successful demo? I also learned that extreme preparation and communication play a huge role not just for technical development purposes but for live demos and interpersonal interactions as well. If there was a lapse in communication, that meant we lost time and money since someone might have to rush to find a specific part that we needed. Lastly, I learned that having more than enough spare parts is a must! Accidents happen so you have to be prepared and have spares.
Q: Who are some of the fun people you encountered during your experience?
A: I was fortunate enough to work with a great group of people! We had a lot of fun together. A funny story – before we left for the trip, I had heard the name “Milan” thrown around. I misunderstood, and thought we were going to Milan, Italy, so I called my grandma and said, “You’ll never guess what! We’re going to Italy too!” Later I found out that Milan was the name of a coworker I had not met before. We ended up becoming good friends – I call him Mikey now. He’s in the Oregon office, but whenever one of us travels, we always make sure to catch up and get lunch.
Q: If you could do this again, is there anything you would do differently? And if so, what?
A: My experience with the team was great, and I would not have been able to get to where I was without the awesome mentorship from my team. I really enjoyed the time spent working on the project, and wouldn’t change it for the world. But, if I really had to change one thing – I would have saved up more money so that I could buy my mom and grandma more gifts from Europe (they have never been out of the country).
After our live demo at Paris Fashion Week, we had a celebratory dinner with the VP of our department, Jerry Bautista, and other VPs, such as Sandra Lopez. My manager introduced me to them, and said, “This is one of our up-and-coming interns. She really helped out with what we did here.” I told them thank you, and that I was beyond grateful for the opportunity to be part of something so amazing.