UOW PhD student Alexis Harper has accepted a highly sought-after paid internship with Geoscience Australia in Canberra.

The internship is part of AMSI Intern, a national program that places postgraduate students into research internships to gain professional development in an industry context.

Alexis’ internship will be with Geoscience Australia, a public sector geoscience organisation that applies science and technology to describe and understand geology and geography.

She received a $5000 scholarship from Mindtree, a global technology solutions company that offered scholarships to final year students studying computer science and engineering degrees.

At the time Alexis was doing Honours (Bachelor of Computer Science). After completing this degree with a first class Honours, she received the Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarship to study for her PhD.

Individual universities administer the APA scheme on behalf of the Department of Education and Training. Alexis’ PhD focused on mining social norms in open source software communities.

“In my third year I was invited to do a PhD with one of my current lecturers, but in order for that to be sustainable I would have to get an APA scholarship, which requires graduating with first class Honours (high distinction average).

“I was so enticed by the reward at the end that I had to at least try. I had never worked so hard in my life and amazed myself with what I was capable of.

“While that year was the hardest I had ever had to work, it is also my proudest and fondest year of my life,” she said.

I was so enticed by the reward at the end that I had to at least try. I had never worked so hard in my life and amazed myself with what I was capable of.Alexis Harper

Senior Lecturer, School of Computing and Information Technology, Dr Hoa Khanh Dam, said Alexis’ PhD was part of a research program on software engineering analytics, which he lead in UOW’s Decision System Lab for Software Engineering.

“We develop next-generation analytical methods to enable stakeholders to harvest valuable insights buried under big data in software engineering,” Dr Dam said.

“My research team got some recent successes and started attracting interests from the industry including a grant with Samsung (see story here), and Alexis’ recent internship with Geoscience.

“Alexis’ internship with Geoscience is also in the area of big data analytics since they need to deal with a huge amount of earth science information products, including collections of satellite information and undersea imagery.

Alexis has always had passion for computers. Having tasted different areas of ICT from web site and software development, game engine coding and networking, she found her passion in software engineering and data analytics.

“Through my degree I have created a game engine, managed several teams, worked deeply with a client in eliciting requirements, handled and coordinated medium sized projects and written a paper that was eventually published in a premiere venue.

“All of these experiences have helped solidify my previous learning into a complete product.

“Some have already served me well in various jobs such as working closely with customers in personalising and custom building software and acting as the main liaison between client and development,” she said.

Alexis hopes to one day serve as head of a research team responsible for building prototypes for translational science in the field of sociology in artificial intelligence.

Words by Kelli Wells. Originally published on UOW Newsroom.