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Nicholas DiLucia

Computer engineer utilizes skills from NETL to update lab website

Nicholas DiLucia

Nicholas DiLucia

When Nicholas DiLucia graduated from the Univ. of Pittsburgh in April 2012, he was excited to have a place to go to develop his skills as a computer engineer.

That place was the National Energy and Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he is taking part in the Professional Internship Program (PIP), managed by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), for the fourth time.

“I have always seen coming back to NETL as a beneficial opportunity to impact my future,” DiLucia said. “I have developed such a great relationship with the employees here and learned so much every single summer.”

The PIP program offers opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and post-baccalaureate students to participate in energy-related research at any one of the three NETL locations across the country.

At the laboratory, DiLucia focuses on modernizing and simplifying the user interface of NETL’s website, including creating and updating web pages. Some of his tasks include converting research reports into PDF files, learning about software management, training department representatives to use certain software and improving indexing terms for search queries.

“It is critical to update the website, so anyone who is interested has access to current information about NETL,” he said, adding that the website receives about 40,000 visits and more than 100,000 page views per month. “The innovative website lets people know what kind of research is going on and how NETL is advancing the technologies.”

He has been helping with the website project for the past two years, and it is expected to be up and running by the end of 2012.

“We have upgraded the content management system to a newer version, made progress on a faceted search system for publications and currently are setting up a sandbox environment for isolated testing once the site goes live,” he added.

During his time in the program, DiLucia said he gained skills that helped him succeed in his undergraduate classes.

“During my first appointment at NETL, I was able to gain experience programming with the C# language,” said DiLucia. “That following semester at the Univ. of Pittsburgh, I enrolled into a JAVA class and was able to achieve above 100 percent on the semester grade due to the prior exposure to C#, a very similar programming language to JAVA.

This time around, DiLucia will not be headed back to a classroom, since he already graduated. He does, however, think the skills, insights and overall experience gained as an intern at NETL will help his departure into the real world in September 2013.

“The PIP program at NETL is a great program; it prepares you for the future,” he said, noting his enhanced understanding of workflow and publishing processes, hierarchy systems and professional meetings. “No matter where you work, those skills always are going to be integral parts of your job.”

Eventually, DiLucia hopes to gain a master’s degree in business administration to pursue the managerial side of computer engineering.

“You can do whatever you want as long as you have the skills to code it,” said DiLucia. “I enjoy solving design problems that arise in the pre-programming planning process along with correcting unplanned complications during actual software programming.”