Friday, August 7, 2015

2015-08-07: Autonomy Incubator Masterpiece Theater Presents: A Farewell To Blogs

Me, at work.

Today, to my complete shock, is my last day as the Autonomy Incubator social media intern. After this, the blog will be in the capable hands of AI head Dr. Danette Allen until the end of August, when I'm happy to announce a new social media intern will take my place for the fall and continue providing the American public with accessible, interesting articles about NASA LaRC's autonomy research. As of this afternoon, I'll be just a regular gal on the street with an above-average knowledge of small UAVs. So, with my last few hours of complete and unchecked power over this small slice of the internet, I'm going to do what I do best: talk about myself.

I'm Abbey Hartley, in case my worst fears are true and no one actually checks the author credits on the blogs I write.  I'm a rising senior at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and I'm an English major with a concentration in Creative Writing. My hometown is Lake Wylie, South Carolina, where I live with my family and two very charismatic dogs.  My pizza order is mushroom and jalapeƱo on thin crust.

When Danette took the massive leap of faith she did to hire me on as a social media intern--a newly invented position this summer--I was intimidated by how unfamiliar the world of the Autonomy Incubator would be for me. So determined was I to make sure that I didn't embarrass myself in front of the engineers, that I did the unthinkable for a humanities major and took Intro to Computer Science for one of my classes during spring term. It was my first time making below a 30 on a final exam. This did not help my nerves.

If I could have known how welcoming everyone in the AI would be, from the PIs to the interns, then I wouldn't have spent a second worrying about being the lone non-STEM person in a robotics lab (and I definitely wouldn't have put my GPA through so much trauma). Every single one of my questions met with a patiently explained answer, no matter how basic, and I am so, so happy to have been a part of this community of brilliant, funny people for ten weeks. Really, I don't know how people work in labs that aren't the AI. We have so much fun here, and we still crank out some of the most kick-ass autonomy research in the field.

The newly-kindled camaraderie between my writing and the tech world is far from over, however. I have loved my job here so much that I've decided to apply for similar positions as I start my career search this year. In even more surprising news, I've discovered that my experience at the AI could bolster my lifelong dream of being an English professor--some English PhD programs would let me do a thesis in "Tech Studies," which would basically entail researching the intersection of technology and literature. How amazing is that? I could teach at a university and be Dr. Hartley, PhD someday, all based on the things I learned about myself and robots this summer.

Thank you for reading my work this summer. To the fall intern taking over soon: you have so many delights ahead of you. And keep my desk warm for me--I'm coming back as soon as I can.

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