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UW Doctoral Student Gains Valuable Experience at Idaho National Laboratory

October 28, 2016
man standing in front of poster, holding  award
Rajiv Khadka, a UW doctoral student majoring in computer science, interned at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) this past summer. During INL’s Intern Expo and Poster Session in August, he won a poster competition. (INL Photo)

Rajiv Khadka was one of nearly 350 college and university students nationwide who had the opportunity to intern at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) this past summer and acquire knowledge that will help him become a strong researcher down the road.

Along the way, the University of Wyoming doctoral student majoring in computer science won a poster competition at INL’s Intern Expo and Poster Session during August.

“INL provides a great opportunity to be involved and explore the research topic of your own interest,” says Khadka, who originally hails from Nepal. “INL provides huge opportunities to the interns to use their available resources while collaborating with researchers and scientists to solve challenging and real-world problems.”

INL is the nation’s leading center for nuclear energy research and development. INL works in each of the U.S. Department of Energy’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and the environment.

To land one of the internships (this is his second at INL), Khadka had to have a minimum 3.0 GPA; be enrolled full-time at an accredited university; and pass a background check. Because he is not a U.S. citizen, Khadka also had to obtain U.S. work authorization. His latest internship at INL ran from May 23-Aug. 26.

“While I was an intern at INL, my main responsibility was to research and explore remote collaboration across the heterogeneous virtual environment,” Khadka explains. “Along with this responsibility, I also was assigned to explore human factors studies in the field of virtual reality, in-house projects, software maintenance and support.”

He adds that INL provides interns with career-oriented enrichment programs; and participation in INL's lab-wide tours enriches knowledge and other cutting-edge training helpful to interns preparing for their careers.

The research and experiments he conducted during his internship will assist him with dissertation work, as well as provide a strong platform for stronger and higher quality of research as he works toward his doctoral degree, he says.

Some of that research is reflected in his poster presentation, titled "Remote Collaboration Across Heterogeneous Collaborative Virtual Environments." There were four poster presentation categories students could enter at the recent INL Intern Expo and Poster Session. Khadka’s poster won in the category of “Best Enabling INL Business and Support Operations.” Overall, the event drew about 100 poster presentations.

Remote tele-collaboration allows users -- who are geographically separated -- to interact and share common work space in a real-time environment, he says.

“Users will be able to feel like they are looking, talking and listening face to face in the same room,” Khadka says. “It allows the geographically separated user to multiplex his time while working on a different task with multiple people.” 

Three-dimensional interaction intrigues Khadka because it “plays an important role during interaction in virtual reality for an immersive experience, training, education, scientific visualization and telehealth,” he says. “I also am interested in using virtual reality for collaboration among remote participants where participants can interact and share common work space in real time who are geographically separated.”

Khadka says one of the reasons he chose to attend UW for his doctoral degree was the high quality of research conducted with virtual reality in the computer science field.

“UW has research-centered degree programs along with dedicated teachers who are concerned about the success of the students,” Khadka says.

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