The LLNL (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. I feel of like I’m in a movie about scientists designing the atom bomb, a feeling which is augmented by the fact that the architecture looks like it’s from WWII. The property is about a square mile in size, so there are free shuttles you can call to take you wherever you need to go. Some of the building are enormous and contain billion dollar experiments, and some of the buildings are tiny trailers. I guess all the budget went towards science? About one in every six workers has a PhD, and it’s hard to find anybody without at least a bachelors, but amidst all these geniuses is an incredibly slow bureaucracy to remind you that this is all run by the government. Security is everywhere, and the guards wear military uniforms and probably have military training. There are signs posted to tell you how dangerous a certain area is, ranging from warning to extreme grave danger. The latter was explained to me as “danger that will put you in a grave.”
The first day was orientation day, and that was when I realized a major disadvantage in working for the government: the bureaucracy is terrible. My past two summers I worked at a startup with fewer than fifteen employees so I was not at all prepared for an entire day of presentations fairly obvious stuff. However, I did learn five important things about working at the lab during orientation day:
Yeah, they need to update their training videos. The KGB is now the FSB.
On Tuesday, I showed up to get my clearance badge. This allows me to enter my office, as well as various other places I might need to go. Mikhail, the man who hired me (and a wonderful person in general), showed me around the area and activated my badge. My office has two PC monitors, a white board, and a bookshelf. No window though.
At around noon, Susan (who works for the National Ignition Facility) and Mikhail took me out to lunch! It was at a place near a golf course and a vineyard, and was much nicer than any of the places I’ve been in college, reinforcing a long held belief of mine: being a programming intern is AWESOME!
In addition to the project I’m working on, there are numerous opportunities to learn about what’s going on at the lab. Everything from taking a tour of the National Ignition Facility to learning how to get out of student debt. You could spend your entire summer going to different events and learning all about what they do in the LLNL. You wouldn’t finish your project, but you would certainly learn a ton.
Anyways, I started out limiting myself classes events that directly relate to what I want to do in the future. Otherwise I might spend all day taking classes rather than working, which will teach me about coding anyways. But that went out the window when I learned that they were giving a talk about advances in continuous flow microreactors. So now my limit is five talks a week.
My biking commute to and from work is fairly deadly. I go across two freeway on-ramps, across a major road, and over a train track. I feel kind of like the character from Crossy Road, only I have one life. But hopefully I’ll be okay!
Now that finals are over I will be getting back into my regular posting schedule.
May you be ever victorious in your future endeavors!