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76th SWEG interns get hands-on experience during summer program

Three students sitting side by side

Ethan Vasquez, Ry Fleming and Isabell Cook, summer interns in the 559th Software Engineering Squadron, worked as a team to create a testing tool for Open Mission Systems called MessageBuilder. The tool will allow OMS developers to test their product easier than they currently can. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heather Fairbanks)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

The 2021 Summer Internship Program for the 76th Software Engineering Group is well underway and running smoothly. The program, which started in 2015, has been successful each year and continues to grow and evolve into a mutually beneficial program for the interns and for the 76th SWEG.

Many of the interns this year are working on projects that directly impact SWEG’s mission and ultimately help Air Force warfighters. 

For example, three interns from the 559th Software Engineering Squadron -- Ry Fleming, Isabell Cook and Ethan Vasquez -- are working on creating a testing tool for Open Mission Systems called MessageBuilder.  This tool will allow OMS developers to test their product with better ease than what is currently being done to test their services. The project will end up saving a lot of time for OMS developers, and it has already been used in integration events.

Working on the project has given the interns a lot of experience in reading and generating XML documents.  The trio expressed their excitement about being able to solve problems every day. 

“The most interesting aspect of it is the agile/scrum system that we are working in,” Fleming said. 

The team works on “sprints,” or a short list of tasks that they work to complete in two weeks. After each sprint, they have a retrospective meeting to discuss those tasks and to determine what direction to move in for their next sprint, evaluating their progress and deciding if any changes need to be made.  They continue to complete this process over and over until the project is done. 

“That constant turnover and constant deadline makes us work faster and better and it’s really interesting to work in a system like that,” Fleming added.

Aquilah Ahmad, lead electronics engineer who oversees the 76th SWEG’s Internship Program, said it has been essential in providing hands-on experience for potential new hires.

“It is critical that we provide these opportunities so we continue to flourish as a state-of-the-art organization,” Ahmad said.

Justin Roper, the lead intern program coordinator for 76th SWEG, gave kudos to his team for seamlessly coordinating all the incoming interns’ rotational schedules and completing all the processes necessary to bring all the interns in on the same day. 

“This is the first year we’ve been able to get all of our new rotational interns on-boarded on time, so I am proud of the team and all those involved who worked to make that happen,” he said.

This year there are a total of 74 interns, with 49 new and 25 returning from the previous year. Each year the intern program is approximately 11 weeks long, beginning with two weeks of New Employee Orientation, Software Onboarding Program and other activities while the interns wait for their computer access to clear. In their third week, the interns start their rotations throughout the squadrons and branches within 76th SWEG. They continue these rotations throughout the summer until the last week when they conclude the rotations and finish with a week of final presentations. Groups of three to four interns work together to present the findings from their projects that they worked on throughout the rotation through the squadrons. At the end of the week an intern hiring event takes place where supervisors and team leads have the chance to interview the interns for possible full time positions with 76th SWEG or to be asked to return next summer for an embedded internship.  Embedded interns do not rotate through the squadrons but stay in one squadron or branch to focus on the field and product line they intend to stay in for their career.

As the interns rotate through the squadrons to sample various workloads, they typically work on sample projects that are specifically created for the internship program. Some of the squadrons work primarily on classified projects that interns are not cleared to work on so a separate project is necessary.  However, a couple of the squadrons have mostly unclassified workloads and the interns are able to integrate into any project or program deemed appropriate by their supervisors. Squadron workloads and projects include: Virtual Maintenance Trainer design (555th Software Engineering Squadron), Test Program Set development (556th SWES), Mission Planning (557th SWES), Radar/PAD (558th SWES), and Flight Gear & Software Requirements Specification (559th SWES).

Those interested in applying for the 76th SWEG Summer Internship program should send an email to 76SMXG.Intern.Program@us.af.mil. Include a resume and transcript (can be unofficial) in the e-mail. Applicants need to have at least a 2.5 GPA and 30 credit hours in order to qualify for the program. Typically, majors that the 76th SWEG looks for include: Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science and Information Technology/Cybersecurity.