Penn State Robotics Club helps student secure successful internship

University Park, Pa. – Having grown up in Redmond, Wa., best known as the home of Microsoft, summer 2011 Penn State graduate Jeremy Bridon is no stranger to emerging technology. Perhaps that’s why he didn’t even bat an eye when his internship at Accelerate Solutions required him to find a better way to implement quality control on Windows Phone devices for a Microsoft-outsourced project. Or perhaps it is because he spent his undergraduate career at Penn State preparing for such a task.

While many computer science majors interning for Axelerate Solutions might have balked upon receiving such an assignment, Bridon felt confident his educational experience helped him prepare for the undertaking. After all, experience with the Penn State Robotics Club and his computer science classes had given him the hands-on experience he needed to complete the assignment successfully.

“I think the computer science department and the club were critical for me to get the internship and to complete the project,” Bridon said. “Part of the reason I chose to come to Penn State was because I knew of the work I could do in the Robotics Club, and I liked the dean of computer science as well.”

Armed with a computer, a robotic arm and two cell phones, Bridon built a program that checked quality control for the Windows Phone devices. The goal was to use the arm to test the phones, saving six Microsoft employees countless hours conducting nonstop quality-control testing.

According to WP7Lab, an online blog that focuses on the mobile devices community and looks for the latest news in mobile device technology, the work Bridon did for Microsoft is visionary:

"Quality control checkups have been left in the capable hands of robots for nearly a decade but having a Windows Phone device being tested by a robotic hand is something that we didn’t expect to happen on such a short notice,” the site stated. “An intern from Pennsylvania State University that goes by the name of Jeremy Bridon has just made public a small video demonstrating the ability of a robotic arm to carry out various tests on Windows Phone devices – rather thoroughly, if we might add. Jeremy Bridon helped create a computer vision technique that recognizes the GUI elements in Windows Phone 7 and then carries out a battery of tests on the operating system.”

Anthony Cascone, a Penn State graduate student working on a master’s degree in mechanic and electrical engineering, was not surprised to hear of Bridon’s technological breakthrough. Cascone, who had been the Penn State Robotics Club president as a Penn State undergraduate, served as a mentor for Bridon and offered support to the club.

“Jeremy is a smart kid; he’s definitely going to find success in life,” Cascone said. “The nice thing about the Robotics Club is it gives students a chance to be leaders, and a chance to teach others. You don’t always get that from a class, but joining organizations like this build leadership and problem solving skills.”

Cascone also attributes Bridon’s triumph with Microsoft, in part, to Penn State Robotics. Welcoming students from all disciplines, the club offers members a chance to build their own autonomous systems (no remote controls) by figuring out strategies and designs with their peers, without instruction from professors. Penn State Robotics creates their machines for various competitions against other university students around the country.

Bridon said the opportunity to intern with Axelerate Solutions, and therefore work for Mircosoft, came about because of Penn State Robotics. A former member of the club that Bridon reached out to helped set him up with the internship, which he was qualified for because of his club involvement.

And while he doesn’t get to follow up and see the implementation of his program at Microsoft, his work has been noticed. Various websites have acknowledged Bridon’s contribution to quality control, thanks to a video he recently posted on YouTube that displays his creation.


Last Updated November 07, 2011