My experience as Hidden Level’s first Engineering Intern
My name is Justin Geary, I am an undergraduate senior from Syracuse University working on my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and making my debut in the blog space! I had the privilege of being the first engineering intern at Hidden Level. Before starting this internship, my electrical engineering interests consisted mostly of signal processing, control systems and programming. However, thanks to the exposure of new disciplines, my interests have now been broadened to areas such as RF engineering and production.
What does Hidden Level do?
After working at Hidden Level for a few months, I have to say, this company is pretty special, not just in mission, but culture too. Hidden Level specializes in developing, deploying and maintaining a drone monitoring service. As drones become cheaper and more accessible to both the public and private sectors, a need to monitor drone traffic is rising in demand. Instead of providing a product to our customers, we instead provide data as a service. We take care of developing, deploying and maintaining an infrastructure of sensors to specific coverage areas of interest to the customer. The data collected from this infrastructure is provided to our customers, offering both real time information and historical analysis capabilities.
What did I do?
Having an electrical engineering education background, I was mostly assigned to work with the RF group on the front end of the system. I was tasked with helping to perform unit tests and generate RF calibration for all components on the analog side of the system, from the antenna array to the receiver hardware. This consisted of assembling and calibrating test fixtures, inspecting array boards, operating vector network analyzers, running testing scripts and processing collected data in MATLAB. After a few weeks, when enough data was collected, I then wrote MATLAB
scripts to collect all the calibration data and perform statistical operations on the aggregate data. I also modified and ported existing production MATLAB scripts to runtime executables that could be deployed onto each workstation computer, freeing up time and resources for production analysis of calibration data.
What did I learn?
In three months, I learned more than I had in an entire year at school, but to be fair, it’s a different kind of learning. I gained lots of hands-on experience that took concepts learned in the classroom and made them applicable, including complex topics such as microwave PCB design, complex antennas, and S-parameter interpretation from a vector network analyzer. Unexpectedly I learned a bit about the production process including proper documentation. The work I did was very instrumental in meeting production deadlines for system deployments. By early
August, the demand for deployed sensors had increased rapidly. During the months of June and July I had fully calibrated enough components, that the surplus allowed the production of the deployed systems to meet the deadlines, which left a very satisfied feeling of being a part of the company’s success.
What about the culture?
The company culture is something I was quite stunned by. Hidden Level initially was a core group of people who have all worked together for over ten years. They really care about the work that they do and feel deeply invested in the success of the company, something that I have never felt anywhere else. As one of the first outside hires, I have to say not once did I feel excluded and I never felt the culture here to be cliquish. Everyone was accessible, approachable and easy to talk to, including the CEO Jeff Cole. I was included in every company event, from concert ticket raffles to the Founder’s Day celebration. The Founder’s Day celebration, by the way, was an all-day brewery tour where everyone in the company was toted
around central New York on a chartered bus. We visited many of the group’s favorite local breweries and lots of craft beer drinking was involved (for the record, I am over 21).
My experiences at Hidden Level were unforgettable from both a work and play perspective. If you are considering applying for an internship with Hidden Level and find yourself reading this, I say go for it! You will not regret a summer working with this team.