This summer our team was joined by two interns, Ruoxi ‘Laura’ Yang and Ezra Hill. They come to us from Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. These motivated individuals infused our team with a fresh wave of energy and lots of new ideas as they contributed to our growing platform.
Laura Yang is a first-year graduate student at the Entertainment Technology Center of Carnegie Mellon University, focusing on 3D art and technical art.
After earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Media Studies from Vassar College, she decided to keep pursuing what she is most passionate about – creating aesthetically pleasing visuals and meaningful experiences through technology and art.
She is always excited about working with different yet creative minds, solving problems, and pushing her limits to learn new things.
Ezra Hill is a technical artist and programmer with a specialization in 3D tools and pipelines. Prior to becoming a researcher in augmented reality and virtual reality at Auburn University and Carnegie Mellon, he spent a number of years deploying and maintaining software for clinicians in the Brookwood Baptist healthcare network in Alabama.
Ezra’s experience in AR/VR as well as healthcare serve as guiding factors for his approach to development.
How familiar were you with AR/VR before starting your position at Lumis®?
Ezra: “I’ve been doing VR projects for about 7 years now, but am still pretty new to AR. It was very gratifying to be able to see our work on a physical system in the real world. It made our digital work feel tangible.”
Laura had one year of experience in AR/VR prior to joining our team where she developed games for entertainment and education.
If you were to describe the work environment in 3 words, what would they be and why?
Ezra shared the three words he would use to share the Lumis office environment and they are rather accurate if you ask me, caffeinated, agile, and most importantly, supportive.
Laura: “Fun, close-knit, efficient. Everyone at Lumis is really nice and fun to be around. I have always enjoyed the random tangential conversations before and sometime during team meetings. They are always fun and lighten up the mood. It is [also] really sweet that everyone remembers everyone’s birthday… The work environment is also very efficient. Because the team is small, it is easy to find someone to answer questions and communicate with each other. Decisions regarding production plans get made and adjusted fast and effectively because of how easy it is to communicate with the team.”
Our team being small allows us to get to know one another on a personal level. This has helped us to understand the value of quick, effective communications fostering an open and exciting work-environment.
What are three things you have learned during this time?
Ezra: “I’ve learned a lot about looking for room to improve within the constraints of an existing project, and think I was successful in finding areas ripe for improvement. I have also learned a lot about pacing when developing fast, and how quickly new features could be put together when we put our mind to it. I think the thing that surprised me the most when working with a codebase this big was that often, if something was implemented in a way that seemed unorthodox at first glance, there was usually a good reason for it. I learned to respect the work done before me rather than feel like I could just replace it with something better.”
When Laura and Ezra first started, we wanted to make sure that they had a good learning experience but we were also eager to learn from them.Their fresh perspective towards our product and platform were eye-opening and it ended up being a truly symbiotic relationship.
Laura: “I have gained much experience on pipeline optimization. Having had to draw from my previous knowledge in the game industry and decide what would be helpful for Lumis’ product, I gained a deeper understanding of the software and tools we are using and how to design a pipeline according to the needs of the production.
I also learned much about planning, time management, and decision making. Because the production is fast-paced, it is important to be able to make plans and design decisions quickly so that the production progress does not fall behind. I learned a lot about how to prioritize things and sometimes let things go in order to help the team stay on track.“
Laura also shared that she has become proficient in understanding a lot of medical terms. “It is eye-opening! It is also inevitable after staring at a human anatomy model for 3 months. If you point to a blood vessel in the human body I will be able to tell you its name right away.”
Being a growth-oriented start-up and a small team, our team has to regularly operate at an accelerated pace. This environment has pushed us all to wear multiple hats and contribute on different fronts helping us stretch across business functions. On any given day you can see each member of the Lumis team completing cross-functional tasks. Sometimes you will see me completing quality assurance on a new software build or Ryan, who is a key member of our tech team, helping us with marketing and business development tasks like leading demos and webinars. Our team is able to rely on, and learn from each other.
How did working for a start-up compare to working for other companies you may have worked for?
Ezra: “I was afforded the freedom to try to implement novel ideas and I feel like they often paid off.” We would agree with Ezra on this! The moulage that he was able to develop for our InSight Platform® is certainly going to be a customer favorite. “It was exciting to see my work contribute to the overall project in a very meaningful and noticeable way, while at a bigger company things often move much slower.”
Laura: “I got to know everyone on the team better. I was also able to get my hands dirty by taking on different types of tasks in contrast to doing just one type of thing in a larger company.”
What has been your favorite memory during your internship?
Ezra: “The first time we got a new patient model implemented was a huge milestone, and celebrating that milestone with a team dinner was pretty great too.”
Laura: “Going to a Pirates game with the team (it was my very first baseball game), and helping Ryan with shooting TikTok worthy content!”
At Lumis, we have created a harmonious balance between productivity and fun. You can find us working hard on our InSight Platform round the clock but we also make sure to enjoy each other’s company. Between team holiday parties, dinners, roller blading, and even Pittsburgh Pirates games, we spend quality time with each other that helps us bond as a team. This seamless coexistence of work and play has not only created a productive work environment but a close-knit team.
After completing their internship, Laura and Ezra both hope to apply the knowledge they have gained this summer to the remainder of their graduate studies and professional pursuits. Ezra wants to continue down the software development path creating groundbreaking technology similar to our InSight Platform. Laura shared that she plans to continue working as a technical artist once she completes her graduate studies. .
While we are sad to see Laura and Ezra leave our team, we are so very confident that they will continue on to do wonderful things.
They were invaluable assets to our team and we feel confident that they will continue to add value to any organization they join. We wish them an abundance of success in their future endeavors.