Flying into internships
[ROS] [Git] [C++] [Python]
How we found some of our 2020 summer interns you ask? By hosting a hackathon.
It was a sunny October afternoon in Trondheim when the 15 students gathered to take part in 2019’s TECHathon. After a pizza dinner and briefing, they got down to business.
They had a little under 48 hours to program drones to autonomously fly around wind turbines and check for areas of rust. And we’re not talking in a simulation either, we’re talking actual wind turbine (!) and drones. Let’s get down to business!
TECHathon is a collaboration between Equinor Blue Sky Innovation, Equinor Software Innovation, student organizations Start NTNU and Ascend NTNU. This year’s edition was the third of its kind and part of UKA student festival - that Equinor is proud to be sponsoring.
“We thought that it might be a new, interesting way of finding interns, instead of only doing the application process that we always do,” Thor André Aresvik tells us.
He’s leading the Software Innovation Trondheim department and was on-site together with Jan Richard Sagli from Blue Sky Innovation in Research & Technology (R&T). While the winners of the TECHathon will get their internships in SI, the idea to do it this way came from Jan Richard.
“Of course we do it to attract new talent for Equinor, but we also want to help promote software as a discipline. It’s not important if they come to work for us in the end or not, as long as we can spark their interest in software."
Jan Richard Sagli
Techathon at a glance
- Three-day hackathon
- Focusing on autonomous drones
- 15 participants in 4 teams
- Grand prize of a summer internship
- In collaboration with AscendNTNU
- Hosted by StartNTNU
More than just simulations
The task itself was put together by a team from AscendNTNU. They’re a student run team developing autonomous drones that Equinor sponsors and they’ve been snatching trophies in international competitions.
“We’ve had a hackathon on icebergs and ships but last year the Ascend team put together such a great hackathon that we wanted to do it again. I’m very impressed and happy with what they’ve put together,” Jan Richard smiles.
“We upped the game a little bit this year and got actual drones and a wind turbine set up at Gløshaugen, instead of just simulations. So hopefully this is as much fun for the students as it is for us,” he laughs.
And the winner is
While some might be worried by the lack of sleep and the long hours in front of laptops, the participants weren’t afraid of a fight. They got down to business as soon as the initial briefing was over, and they didn’t stop until minutes before the deadline.
Their task was simple, yet challenging: program a small Ryze Tello drone to take off, fly around a wind turbine and inspect for rust before landing - all by itself. While most of it was done in a simulation, it also included a live demonstration on the lawn of NTNU.
“We enjoy programming and solving problems, so naturally we saw it as a fun way to spend our weekend."
Helle, Marcel Rød, Anders H. Iversen and Halvor Bø made up the team “Helle’s Angels”. Their team name was inspired by Charlie’s Angels, and who knows - it may have helped them in taking home the grand prize! While they might not have been the fastest ones to get through all the challenges, it seems like slow and steady does indeed win the race.
“The other teams might have been here more than us but I think we spent our time efficiently. We made sure to get some sleep, if not we wouldn’t be functioning at all,” Anders H. Iversen smiles.
As each team completed different tasks they were given scores based on the end results and time spent. As with every great competition, there was a scoreboard in the room - complete with live updates.
“Having a scoreboard was really entertaining, it gave us an extra boost to keep on working,” Helle says.
“If we got something wrong the drone would simply crash or land somewhere it wasn’t supposed to. It made it easy to see if we had got something wrong, and I enjoyed trying to solve the different problems that each task had,” Marcel Rød says.
What we're looking for
If you couldn’t make it to the TECHathon, have no fear - there’s other ways to work with software development in Equinor. When we’re looking to hire people, we’re looking for someone who’s curious about and interested in technology.
Naturally, you also need to be a skilled coder - which is why we ask every potential candidate to take an online test named HackerRank.
“We’re looking for someone who’s a software-craftsman and a skilled coder. Good grades are one indicator, but the HackerRank test shows how good you are at practical coding right now."
Our core values are open, caring, courageous and collaborative, so making sure they fit you isn't going to hurt you either.
“We’re also focused on diversity and finding people with different backgrounds and personalities, and we’re especially looking to recruit more women. We believe, and research shows, that diversity helps foster innovation, which you can never have too much of,” Thor-André explains.
From intern to graduate
While applying for our available positions is one way to join Equinor, you can also join our graduate program. Thomas Sundvoll has spent the last two years working as a summer intern in Equinor and is now ready to tackle our graduate program when he finishes his studies in 2020.
“I’m excited to get this flying start to my career and to keep improving myself. And it feels good to know that they’ve been happy with my work these two past summers,” Thomas smiles.
“My impression is that you get the opportunity to contribute with ideas that can help improve both the company and the world we live in. Everyone is really supportive and want to help you succeed."
Some of the work he did was focused on autonomous drones, together with fellow intern Frida Marie Pedersen. The field will be increasingly important in the future and their main goal was to gain more competence on the field for Equinor. They were given drones, sensors, an office and fairly free reign to take their project in the direction they wanted.
“I learned a lot about drones and programming, and it was almost like I didn’t want to leave work because I had so much fun just coding away,” Thomas laughs.
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Equinor corporate graduate programme
- For final year students and recent Master or Ph.d graduates
- Two-year programme with on-the-job learning
- Rotation-based and of varying length and scope, depending on your professional area
- Gain real-world experience in the energy industry
- Choose from different locations and disciplines
- Permanent Equinor employee from day one
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