Internship Blogs

Read on to find out more about the STOR-i internships experience as told by the current STOR-i interns.

Week 1

written by Peter Greenstreet

I moved into the STOR-i flat on the Sunday and within 3 hours I had met 8 of the interns and we started to get to know each other. The Monday began with an introductory talk from Jonathan Tawn, then we had an IT session with Oli who set us up and gave us all laptops! (Sadly only for the 8 weeks internship). We all quickly discovered Oli was a master of all tech, as he can sort any problem out. 
 
Next up we had a team building session which began by holding hand and getting knotted together. This was followed by trying to make a square with some rope whilst blindfolded, which ended up having only 2 corners and not one side of equal length. Finally we finished with a game where we had to call each other different vegetables. It was all a great laugh and also I really got to bond with both the interns and the masters students.
 
Next up was a 2 hour lunch with FREE food where we also got to meet our supervisors. Everyone was super chatty and friendly. Following this was another lecture and we finished with a university tour. After this some of us headed to the sports centre to play badminton with the PhD students, who were really good.
 
For the next 3 days we all met with our supervisors to discuss our projects and find out what we needed to learn for the first couple of weeks. We also had lab sessions on both R and LaTeX which helped refresh my memory as well as teaching me new skills in both. On Tuesday night we went to the legendary White Cross quiz night and one of the STOR-i teams even managed to come second!
 
Thursday started with some more R followed by our introductory presentations which contained loads of cute baby photos. This was followed by a great scavenger hunt. We were split into teams of 4 with 2 interns and a PHD and Master student in each. We were given a list of things to find, as well as challenges all around campus. It was great fun. Then we had a barbeque with lots of food. However we did lose a sausage to the ducks!
 
On Friday we had a presentation from Sarah about her PhD project followed by cake and then some more time to work on our projects and meet with our supervisors. That evening some of us went to the gym and the others went to a poker night.
 
On Saturday we went for a 3 hour walk and then bought some famous sticky toffee pudding. It was a great opportunity to get to know some of the MRes and PHD students. Then some of us had a roast that evening followed by our lovely sticky toffee pudding.
 

Week 2

written by Mason Pearce

We started the week by working on our second challenge using Rstudio in our assigned groups, the challenge was to code a strategy to win a game of tic-tac-toe, we then simulated 1000 games against using our strategy against the other groups. It was very close, group 1 drew with everyone but group 2 won more when playing group 3 and they were the overall victors receiving a giant Toblerone as their prize. Later in the day we moved over to our new base room and got settled in. In the evening some of us went down to the sports hall to play badminton with the MRes and PhD students.

The next day began with presentations from first year students on project ideas for their PhD, this gave us a taste for the different areas of research that goes on at STOR-i. In the afternoon we were taught how to make beamer presentations and posters in LaTeX to prepare us for the later weeks, a few of us then went to play football. Later on the in the evening we attended The White Cross weekly quiz, splitting into two teams. One of the teams even won a gallon of beer!

We all met with our project supervisors again later in the week and the following days were spent working hard on our individual projects in the new base room. Most of us using the skills we had been taught in Rstudio to code what our supervisor had asked us too, whilst some of us used Python as it is a more suitable programming language for the project related tasks. Although we were working on our own topics, there was plenty of talking and sharing ideas and lending people a hand if they needed.

On Friday, Sam organised a board game night at Pizzetta on campus, we all attended and a lot of the PhD students came too, which was nice. At the weekend we had planned to go on a trek up Scafell Pike in the Lake District, but due to the weather we decided to postpone and instead went to escape rooms in the city centre. We were trapped in a jail cell accused of being witches and if we didn’t solve the puzzles to escape we would be ‘left to rot’, we had one hour. At first we made great time, but towards the end the puzzles got more difficult and slowed us down, we just managed to escape with only two and a half minutes spare!

Week 3

written by Niamh Lamin

Week three was a much quieter week in terms of scheduled academic activities but this gave us all a good chance to get our teeth into our projects. I spent most of the week studying the types of inequalities produced by a program called PORTA for optimisation problems. This involved the production of three of four items with start-up costs associated with machines involved in the production of various sub-sets of these items. Even though my supervisor was away, I found this wasn’t a problem because she was always available by email or phone if I got stuck or needed to ask any questions.

As well as speaking with our individual supervisors, we also had a group meeting on Friday afternoon. As in the previous weeks, I found this meeting really useful as it gave me a chance to explain what I had been working on that week to some of the other interns. As well as giving us all chance to find out about the interesting projects the others were working on, I found that explaining my progress helped me to consolidate and check my own understanding and provided useful practice ready for the presentations at the end of the programme.  

On Friday morning, we had a STOR-i Forum with a difference - rather than just having a presentation from a single PhD student, we were treated to a series of ‘Pi Minute Theses’. Each PhD student had exactly three minutes and fourteen seconds to introduce us to their research topic. I really liked this format as it meant we got to hear about a wider range of different projects and the general introductions were easier to follow than the more detailed presentations of the previous two weeks. All the projects sounded really interesting but I particularly enjoyed Emily’s presentation about Combination Therapies and how information could be borrowed between similar combinations of drugs to decide which ones to investigate in clinical trials.

Even though the academic timetable was slightly less hectic, the social calendar was just as full as normal so there was a lot to entertain us all in the evenings. The weekly badminton and football sessions continued, as well as the pub quiz on Tuesday evening but there were also some special activities. For example, a group got together to watch the Love Island final on Monday evening and a group of us went for an impromptu ice-cream from Walling’s in Alex Square on Wednesday afternoon- it was the best chocolate-chip ice-cream I’ve ever tasted, though I fear I managed to get more of it down my shorts than actually in my mouth!

To round off the week, there was a bar crawl Friday evening. I’d never been on a bar crawl before but I actually really enjoyed it. We visited some really nice pubs and it was a great chance to socialise and spend time with some of the MRes and PhD students as well as the other interns (that’s one of the things I love about STOR-i there are always plenty of chances for integration between year groups which creates a great atmosphere). We started at the Water Witch and then made our way down into town visiting a series of pubs on a route planned for us specially by Tom and Alan. Though I was really having fun, since I was quite new to these sort of events, I decided to head home after the third pub, especially since the next destination was one whose name would strike fear into even the bravest of souls (which I most certainly am not)- The Pub!

Anyway, I have it on good authority that everyone made it back safely and the event was definitely a success.

Week 4

written by Sean Hooker

Week fours timetable again provided the interns the possibility to focus on their projects with lots of time available for independent research. My project involves identifying points in a time series where there has been an abrupt change in its properties, such as a change in the mean or variance. I spent the past week building on techniques that I had coded previously and developing these into computationally more efficient methods.

This culminated in running my chosen method over multiple simulated time series all of differing lengths. The main measurement I was comparing was the speed of the algorithms. The code took a little longer than expected to get through all the sets of data but I got a nice looking graph out of it and plenty of ideas for improvement.

I’m beginning to feel accustomed to the weekly activities of STOR-i members. Tuesday was football, it was a good turn out from the interns, as well as the regulars, this week and after an exhausting 90 minutes the match ended with a close score. Also on that evening was the pub quiz at the White Cross pub in town, STOR-i fielded two teams whose members spent the night answering questions on topics from Pokémon to world records on blowing balloons and pretty much everything in between.

The rest of the week flew by, with the occasional hangman session to break up some of the day in  our base room. This week’s edition of the Friday Applied Probability (poker) night was held in the intern’s flat and the home advantage was clear with Mason winning the night.

Saturday was the main event of the week with a hike up Scarfell Pike, this had already been cancelled once due to bad weather and it’s clear why, even on a (mostly) bright and clear day this was a challenge. The entire group, made up of interns and PhD students, made it up and down before daylight fell, but they didn’t quite miss the rain however. But this provided the group with some picturesque scenes of the mountains and the drizzle. Their impressions of the hike are currently skewed with the mental images of them all climbing down a mountain in the heavy rain, but given time, and a few more warm drinks, they’ll be able to reminisce what will be the main achievement of the internship so far.

 

Week 6

written by James Price

In terms of the project, Week 6 appeared to be a bit of a breakthrough week for a lot of the interns. With the prospect of the presentation and poster session looming, a lot of the work towards the project has taken shape and overall end goals are being achieved.

My project is on finding heuristics for real-time railway rescheduling. I’ve spent the past few weeks exploring variousmethods for finding the shortest path through various graphs and so last week was spent finding ways to measure both how good the methods wereand how long they took to calculate their chosenroute through the graph. The results were encouraging and allowed me to observe where certain methods could be refined further.
This week saw the addition of a shadowy character to the intern’s base room, the puzzle-maker. This man (or woman) of mystery would leave us a new puzzle everyday which, usually after a few hours of head-scratching, lead to piece of paper hidden somewherein the room containing a five letter word. The ingenuity of these clues ranged from noticing a blue arrow pattern in a grid of chairs to colouring numbers on a grid according to an extensive set of rules. This all culminated in having to ask a specifically worded question at the Friday forum. And as if by magic, our prize, in the form of a cake, appeared in the base room.

I really enjoyed the puzzles, which the other interns can testify to due to my regular wonderings around the room to peer under a tableor on a ledge. However I discovered a quite a few new hiding places which will come in useful should my supervisor unexpectedlyturn up asking why I got no work done this week.

The regular White Cross Pub quiz on Tuesday’s was also a triumph, which due to Sam Tickle’s beautifully obscure knowledge of the Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ novels in the Pointless round resulted in a tidy cash prize for the entire team. I guess you could say we had a wonderful time*.

The week closed with the big social event, the STOR-i ball, this year held at Lancaster Golf Club. This full on night contained a group Ceilidh, complete with skipping, clapping and of course plenty of spins, and also a wonderful three course meal, although thankfully not in that order. And then just when I thought it was all over, it turned out the night was only beginning. There was a quick taxi ride into town and before I knew it I was in Hustle nightclub, still in a full suit, having a great time.

I’ve managed to block from my memory the time when Ifinally got to bed, but if anything that’s the sign of a fabulous night.

*the joke is left as an exercise for the avid reader.‌‌‌‌Read on to find out more about the STOR-i internships experience as told by the current STOR-i interns.

 

Week 7

written by Kostya Siroki

The week started with an enjoyable day-off. But it didn’t make Monday any less entertaining, as the Murder Mystery Day took place. Three STOR-i teams participated in it. The aim was to find a “murderer” by answering questions, exploring Lancaster and collecting evidence from witnesses. All the participants found this event fascinating. Moreover, good results were achieved. The “Mafiamaticians” won best costume prize, also team “STORlock Holmes”, containing 2 interns, came second.

 For the rest of the week we were pushing our creativity to the limits so as to produce eye-catching posters. It made us especially collaborative this week due to the regular LaTeX errors and the subsequent necessity to find someone who had already encountered that issue.

 A Foosball charity tournament was organized on Tuesday in order to raise money for MIND and also to test out the BRAND NEW FOOSBALL TABLE decorating the hub from now on. Two of interns participated in the competition as a team and successfully won the first round. Sadly luck wasn’t on their side in the second game and they lost against the eventual competition runners-up.

 Week 7 was enriched with football. We had two wonderful games on both Tuesday and Thursday. Interns lead by the MRes students opposed PhD students on Tuesday. After an exhausting 90 minute long game the score was 5-5 and so a golden point game began. This time we lost, but next week we will be sure to come back stronger than ever before.

 Tuesday was a very busy day as, in addition to the above stated activities, it also included the pub quiz. Three teams represented STOR-i this time, and every team ended up winning prizes. One of the teams won “The most average team” prize, the other one was the closest when guessing the exact number of “Big Bang Theory” episodes and the last team, but certainly not the least, WON the quiz.

 As usual the week was concluded by the forum. This time the presentation was given by Christian Rohrbeck and of course it was followed by coffee with cookies.

 

Week 8

written by Nicolo Grometto

The final week of the internship has finally begun!


We spent Monday morning making last minute changes to our posters before sending them off for printing. In the afternoon, we all had a good start on our presentations, trying to condense the results obtained throughout the previous 7 weeks into a ten minute presentation.


Unfortunately, Tuesday did not see any of the interns attending the weekly pub quiz. Making our posters and slides look pretty in LaTeX and feeling the final day approaching took up a great deal of energy, and almost no interns showed up for the last football session, either. Quite an animated 4-a-side still took place on the field, and the sun shining made it even more enjoyable for those who played.

Wednesday quickly went by, as we spent the whole day making fast progress with our presentations. On Thursday, we had our exit interviews with the Director of STOR-i, Jonathan Tawn. We had the possibility to discuss our experience throughout the internship, as well the progress we made with our projects in the past weeks. We concluded the day by gathering in groups in the Postgraduate Statistics Centre for rehearsing and giving each other constructive feedback.

And at last, Friday! The day began with an unusual atmosphere at STOR-i, as we were all so excited about showing our work to others, whilst also feeling nervous for having to speak in front of the audience. After rearranging the interns’ office for the afternoon poster session, at 9:45 we started off with the presentations. It was incredible to see how much progress each one of us made during the internship and how well we all managed to present our work.

After a short break, the day continued with the poster display session, which also went exceedingly well. A number of visitors came along to see our work, including the MRes and PhD students, as well as members of staff from STOR-i and the Mathematics and Statistics, and Management Science Departments. We all received positive comments about our research projects, as well as posters, which made us extremely proud and satisfied with our work. We concluded the day with a final meal in town and celebrated our results all together.

On Saturday morning, the time to leave had come. Whilst feeling sad for having to say goodbye to each other, we were all so happy for having spent a fantastic summer at STOR-i and for feeling part of such an inclusive community. Thank you to everyone who worked hard in order to make this happen.