Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy
Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy

Peter Carniglia - An Engineering Physics Undergrad's Internship Experience

Posted On: September 13, 2018

Peter Carniglia presented his project in poster format at the Shirley's Bay Centre.

Dr. Bhashyam Balaji, Peter’s supervisor:

It should be noted that the relevant conference, IEEE SENSORS, is the flagship conference of the IEEE Sensors Council, an organization currently consisting of 25 IEEE member societies . In addition, for the "student registration" it was expected that the students in accepted papers were graduate students, not undergraduate students (like Peter is)! The work is a small reflection of the enormous amount of creative work Peter did in his co-op term at DRDC. Note that in addition, he was co-author for a paper that was published in April (SPIE Defence and Commercial Sensing), as well as a DRDC report that summarizes some of the work. The work he did will contribute to several DRDC projects in the coming years.

This past summer, the department provided some financial assistance to one of our Eng Phys undergrads, Peter Carniglia, just off a 16-month internship, so he could submit a paper to the IEEE Sensors 2018 Conference. Even though he couldn’t go to the conference (one of his co-authors will attend and present his paper), it was important that he submit his paper so that it could be finalized and published. The department covered the fees to get his paper properly submitted.

In Peter's own words

My name is Peter Carniglia, and I am just finishing up a 16-month internship at Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) in Ottawa. At DRDC, I worked in the Radar Sensing and Exploitation division where a few other interns and I began development on an end-to-end open-source tracking library in Python. The library seeks to fulfill a currently empty niche in that most tracking libraries tend to be too specific, require proprietary software (eg. MATLAB), or require the user to have a good deal of tracking experience.

In my time at DRDC, I utilized a number of skills I aquired through my previous two years in Engineering Physics. For example, our real data trials returned data in a latitude/longitude/altitude format, but in order to use our tracking models, that data must be converted to a local Cartesian coordinate system (xyz). As the Earth is not a perfect sphere, the conversion is not trivial. Libraries exist already that claim to have this conversion functionality, but I noticed a discrepancy between the actual ranges and the ranges I calculated from the converted coordinates. I was able to use my experience in Mathematical Methods for Engineering and Physics in order to diagnose the error in the library’s functionality and create functions to perform this conversion for us. Even courses that were not directly related to my work material, such as Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, provided me with valuable knowledge such as how to work in state space and use matrix mechanics.

My internship offered a unique opportunity to gain real-life experience working in a field related to my studies. Sometimes, it can be difficult to understand the real application of the highly theoretical course material in Engineering Physics so the internship was a great way to see how my degree could translate into a related career. Over the course of my internship, I was able to publish two papers related to the work I completed. Writing actual research papers was a unique experience and helped bolster my resumé for future applications. If you are looking for a way to gain relevant experience and challenge your knowledge in a meaningful way, then an internship is a great option!