USIP Intern Levi Exner Headshot
2021 USIP Intern Levi Exner

This summer we’re introducing interns in the RESESS, Geo-Launchpad, and USIP programs to shine a spotlight on the projects they are completing throughout these 11-week internships and on their interests in geoscience.

Levi Exner is interning this summer at UNAVCO as a software engineer. Levi entered Colorado State University as a statistics major and was required to take an introductory computer science course. After enjoying the class, Levi decided to switch his major to computer science. He was eager to obtain more computer science experience, especially in a professional setting, and wanted the chance to practice data visualization. Levi found the introductory geology course he took interesting and with his grandfather in the USGS, Levi understood the importance of supporting geological research.

UNAVCO’s Doug Ertz is supervising Levi this summer. The Network of the Americas has internal systems that report information like the voltage and temperature of the components GNSS stations. The system generates plots with the data that field engineers can reference to diagnose the station if there are functionality issues. The script to analyze this data and produce plots is currently written in PHP, a web development programming language. Levi is working to rewrite the system with Python, which will allow the code to run at least three times faster than it previously did. Similarly, Levi is updating the UNAVCO Network Monitoring tool, through which a user can search for a GNSS station and receive its health statistics.

Despite lacking a geological foundation before entering the USIP program, Levi found the Red Rocks Park field trip that University of Colorado Boulder’s Dr. Lon Abbott led to be very interesting. He has also enjoyed exploring some of the technical, scientific aspects of his software development project’s applications. Because Levi is working with GPS stations, he has been learning about the multi-path propagation of radio waves and the intricacies of how radio waves interact with the GPS satellites.


  1. What has been your favorite part of the USIP program so far?

Definitely just going into the office. I’ve been going pretty much every day. After being cooped up in my apartment because of the pandemic, it’s just nice. Of course it’s nice to have real enterprise, like development experiences. You don’t get that in school; you don’t work with the kind of data or the kind of systems that are as complicated, or even the same stuff at all in school, as you do in this internship.

  1. Do you feel like you have developed a mentorship with Doug Ertz? What have you gained from this mentorship?

It was great, because the first week I would say I was overwhelmed and I had never used any of this stuff before and I didn’t know how it all fit together. He would just explain things to me and answer all of my questions. I feel like I can go to him for anything, so he’s been a really good mentor.

  1. How does this internship fit into your future goals or help you achieve them?

Since it’s a software development internship, I think it looks really good on a resume. I’m going to be able to link to this project and talk about it, and all the different things that we’ve tried to do, like the different programming languages in the different frameworks that we’re trying to use to keep everything updated.

Levi is taking a year off of school to explore his career options. He is moving to Las Vegas this summer and actively applying to jobs as a software developer.

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