Unidata Interns Wrap Up Summer Projects

Summer Interns
Unidata summer 2014 interns Shawn Cheeks and Florita Rodriguez

The Unidata Program Center's two summer student interns — Florita Rodriguez from Texas A&M Univeristy in College Station, TX, and Shawn Cheeks from Marshall University in Huntington, WV — have come to the end of their summer appointments. After a summer's dilligent work, they presented the results of their projects to the UPC staff on July 29, 2014.

The Unidata Summer Internships offer undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to work with Unidata software engineers and scientists on projects drawn from a wide variety of areas in the atmospheric and computational sciences.

Florita Rodriguez
Florita Rodriguez
Florita Rodriguez

First up was Florita Rodriguez, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Texas A&M University in May, 2014. Florita spent her time at Unidata creating an IPython notebook to plot hurricane data from the National Hurricane Center's storm archives.

Florita's IPython notebook retrieves both historical hurricane forecasts and actual storm track data, and plots one or more tracks on a map display of the relevant hurricane basin. She used IPython Interactive Widgets to allow the notebook user to choose the storm to be displayed, choose one or more forecast models to show, and to select which forecast to be display.

Florita Rodriguez' IPython notebook

Florita faced some challenges in determining how to navigate the National Hurricane Center archive data in order to retrieve and plot the storm tracks. After her talk, UPC developers noted that the work she had done to make use of the archive data is now available to anyone who reads the Python code used to create the displays. Florita's code is available on Github, and can be retrieved and used by anyone interested in using or extending her work. (See this Unidata Developers' Blog post for Florita's description of the project, along with the Github information.)

“I really enjoyed the environment at Unidata. The community effort within [the office] I think is really fantastic,” said Florita of her experience as a Unidata Summer Intern, adding that she appreciated the fact that the team effort was always aimed at aiding the larger community. “I really enjoyed my project — it was really exiting, but it was equally exciting to see what everyone else was working on,” she continued.

“On Sundays I was thinking: I get to go to work tomorrow!” Florita added. “Boulder is an amazing place … it beats any summer I could ever have in Texas.”

Shawn Cheeks
Shawn Cheeks
Shawn Cheeks

Next was Shawn Cheeks, who is finishing up his bachelor's degree in Computer Science at Marshall University. Shawn presented his work on a mobile app to display radar data retrieved from a THREDDS Data Server.

Shawn's project extends his work from the summer of 2013, which he also spent at the Unidata Program Center as a summer intern. Last year, Shawn built a mobile app to display model data on an Android device (you can read about his 2013 talk here). This year he chose to create a new app to display radar imagery on a range of mobile platforms, coding in HTML and JavaScript and using the Apache Cordova platform to build native apps for multiple mobile operating systems.

One of Shawn's biggest challenges in creating his radar app was dealing with the large size of raw radar images, which made mobile display impossible. After investigating creating a server to provide smaller image tiles, Shawn decided to use the composite radar images available on Unidata's THREDDS Data Server, which are alreay in a tiled format. This approach had the added benfit of allowing him to retrieve a .kmz file ready for use with Google Maps.

Radar app
Shawn Cheeks' radar app

Dealing with local storage of the retrieved files was another hurdle. Shawn settled on using the publicly-available Dropbox API; this lets anyone with a Dropbox account let his app use the cloud-based storage mechanism to download the radar imagery to their mobile device for display. (You can read more about Shawn's project on the Unidata Developers' Blog.)

On his intern experience this summer, Shawn had this to say: “[Boulder] is a great area, it's a great environment, and I really enjoyed it. One of the things I really enjoyed was being the the research lab envronment, because there is always so much development going on — not only with Unidata stuff but the other departments around UCAR.”

To watch Shawn and Florta's presentations, head over the Unidata Seminar Series page.

Stay Tuned

If you're a student thinking about internships for the summer of 2015, keep Unidata in mind. Unidata's summer internships are generally advertised in early January, so be sure to check back at the beginning of next year. For reference, you can take a look at the 2014 internship announcement.

We at the Program Center certainly enjoyed having both Florita and Shawn working beside us this summer, and we wish them both the best of luck in what we're sure will be brilliant careers!


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