IST intern coordinates network infrastructure installation at U.S. hospitals

Hope Damato
August 05, 2021

(Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of stories highlighting College of Information Sciences and Technology students and their summer internships.)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Like many interns over the past 16 months, Penn State information science and technology senior Katie Byrd expected her internship with Universal Health Services, Inc. (UHS) to be entirely virtual. But after her first week, she gave up her quiet, virtual workspace in exchange for a fast-paced hospital environment when public health guidelines allowed for a switch to an in-person experience.

Byrd, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), is part of a team that coordinates the installation of network infrastructure and devices in hospitals that are under construction across the United States.

“I was not expecting to be in person, but it’s easier for me to quickly learn and understand new information this way,” she said. “I’m looking forward to learning more about the technology used in the health care industry.”

Byrd’s team creates floor plans indicating where phones, computers, printers and other technology are located throughout the hospital. Then, they create a budget based on the floor plan and ensure that everything is installed in time.

So far this summer, her main tasks have been working on example floor plans and budgets in addition to attending events each week to learn about the other information services teams at UHS. She says that the classes she's taken have helped her better understand ideas and apply concepts in her internship, such as project management and network infrastructure.

“I have gained communication and time management skills from school as well as experience working with groups through these opportunities,” she said. “What I’ve learned in my classes is very important, but also my research and learning assistant positions at the College of IST helped me stand out (among applicants).”

The ability to apply her expertise and skills in a career path in almost any industry is what drew Byrd to IST, where she has strengthened her personal and professional experiences in a number of areas.

During her first semester, she applied for the NASA Women in Science and Engineering Research program and was chosen to work at the Penn State Center for Human-Computer Interaction, led by John Carroll, distinguished professor of information sciences and technology. Her main project was writing a systematic analysis paper about health-related technologies used by family members of different generations.

“This experience helped me in my internship because it taught me how important timely communication is when working in groups,” she said. “It was important to frequently update my team members of my progress so that we were staying on schedule, and that is also the case for my role at UHS. It’s important that I let my coworkers know when I run into any problems immediately so that we can solve them and move forward as quickly as possible.”

In addition to her internship and experiences as a learning assistant and research assistant, Byrd is active with THON and Women in IST.

In the future, Byrd plans to continue working in the health care industry after she graduates. The internship has helped her refine what she wants in a career and she hopes to build off her real-world experiences in the opportunities she pursues next.

“I came into this internship thinking that I might want to do something relating to project management once I graduate, and I can definitely see myself continuing to pursue that as a career,” she said.

Last Updated August 05, 2021