Even though we’ve had an unusually mild winter in Pittsburgh, it still was much colder than the Januarys that Rodrigo Sellanes is used to. Rod is a computer science engineering student at UCEMA, the University Center for Macroeconomic Studies of Argentina, in Buenos Aires, but he has been interning at PSC since early January.
He says he didn’t mind skipping the summer. “I don’t miss the summer… [even though] I like summer, everything is green, you don’t have to use a lot of clothes, like an onion.” So what did he think of his winter in Pittsburgh? “It’s the first time I spent a lot of time in a city with snow. I like snow, snow is really nice, too.”
Laura McGinnis, PSC’s manager of education, outreach and training, says that PSC has been hosting interns from UCEMA since 2003. “Each year, we are glad to provide a ‘summer’ internship experience for one or two of their upper-level students – summer in Argentina, that is, which is December to March.”
Rod says that among the things he will never forget about Pittsburgh are Heinz ketchup, Phipps Conservatory, and all the bridges. “Heinz ketchup is the best!”, he says. “In Argentina, it is a little bit expensive. I didn’t know it was from here.” He recommends Phipps Conservatory as a cure for stress. “I think I spent two hours there, it’s so relaxing. All the people work very hard to keep the place so natural… like there is no human race there. Amazing.”
And the bridges? “I like bridges. My favorite is the Hot Metal Bridge, because it’s like a British movie… It’s not very old, but it looks old. The architecture is all black and beautiful.”
Rod worked with the Systems and and Operations group to test PSC’s new file archival system, and migrate files from the old architecture to the new. That was a really big challenge, he says. The focus of his work was developing monitors to catch errors.
“My specialty here was monitoring. I researched SEC (Simple Event Correlation). It is a very good open source application to catch all events, and that’s really important because those events are errors, and the idea is to fix all the errors. I developed four programs, and now they are all running… So a part of me is going to be in the project.”
Chad Vizino, a senior resource management specialist at PSC, introduced Rod to SEC. Chad says, “Rod really got into it and put the tool to good use parsing logs coming from the archive machines.”
Rod says that the most important part of his experience, however, was exposure to a different culture. “If you want to know how to use a program or a computer language, you can go to Google, but changing culture, you can’t get it in Google.”
Being in an English-speaking culture changed him, at least temporarily. One day, it occurred to him, “Oh my God, I am thinking in English!” He says, “When you come here, first you think in Spanish, but when you spend one month, two months, you are thinking in English.”
Rod’s roommates here included young men from Saudi Arabia, Singapore, China, and Syria, so he had quite an international experience. Talking with them and getting to know them, he said, was really amazing.
We’re glad that Rod benefited from the experience, because we certainly did. Laura says, “All of the students who have come here from UCEMA have been very productive on their projects and true assets to PSC.”
When I asked him what was next, Rod said that he had an opportunity to teach physics and math at UCEMA and another nearby university. “I really like teaching. I like science so much, I like to explain hard things.” But he is also interested in becoming a chef. He says, “I really like science, but arts, I really like too, particularly food. I like to create food, not only to taste it.” He is hoping to enroll at IAG, the Instituto Argentino de Gastronomia. “If I have a job, I can afford that. So that’s my plan, to get a job, then culinary school, and to be a professor.”
Instead of traveling around the U.S. during his spare time, Rod says he preferred to learn Pittsburgh well while he was here, and to save Chicago or New York for subsequent trips. “I know a lot about Pittsburgh. I don’t think it’s going to be the last time I am going to be here [in the U.S.].” We hope not, and we hope you will come back to Pittsburgh again. Until then, Rod, thank you for all your work. Chau pibe, y que te vaya bien, che!