Students Thrive in the Success of UNH-IOL Software Tools

Here at the UNH-InterOperability laboratory (UNH-IOL) we work with over 150 students each year. We pride ourselves on providing hands-on, real world training  to these students prior to graduation. And by ‘real world’ training, we mean just that. Since 1988, our lab has allowed undergraduates to prepare for careers in the industry testing multi-vendor interoperability. We provide professional networking and data testing services to companies of all sizes from around the world, including several Fortune 500’s. In addition, we develop several software testing tools in-house to help achieve our vision of being the world's premier data networking resource. These tools have become an invaluable component of our testing services and through membership or direct purchase, these tools can be available to your organization.

Students have the opportunity to work within the conformance and interoperability testing suites and serve as the key component in the commercialization of our testing tools. These tools are purchased by member and nonmember companies and our students are key factors to the development, progression and final sales of these tools. I was able to interview several students about their involvement with the ‘Test Tool Success’ while gaging their overall experiences with the UNH-IOL. Being new to this organization, I was wowed by how the IOL is truly dedicated to being a  rewarding learning institution training future engineers.

Working at the lab is similar to any other job – you punch in, you punch out, you are assigned projects, tasks, deadlines, and expectations. But what’s unique about working at the UNH-IOL as opposed to  any other college part-time job is that the students work directly with head engineers from businesses around the world. Students are involved with the development of test tools such as updating test scripts, developing new tests, improvements to the overall user experience and more. Students hold positions that are  very similar to the positions they aspire to obtain  after graduation. Also, just like any other employed college student, they face the challenge of balancing a job and school. While talking with these students, they discussed some other challenges that they faced, such as learning new technologies and techniques from scratch. However, this statement was followed by expressions of the feeling of accomplishment and value they experienced once it was completed.

While working at the lab, students are engaging with  implementations that are used in the day-to-day lives of our customers. It’s up to them to determine faults, improvements and find the best solutions. The students at the lab feel an overwhelming sense of success to the contribution of these test tools. Kristopher Fargo, a Mechanical Engineering student, has worked at the lab for over 3 years. when asked about his role in developing the test tools he stated, “I have contributed a lot of my ideas for the tools and have been the one who implements them, they have improved tools functionality and usability. I have spent a lot of time providing numerous test script updates which improve vendor’s test result accuracy.” During Kristopher’s years at the lab he has worked on both the vIOLett test tool & the vIOLett AVB used for AVnu conformance and interop testing.

A valuable benefit  of working at the lab as an undergraduate student is being able to gain up to 4+ years of experience, giving them a leg up on most graduates in their field. Mike Bogochow, a Computer Science student, has been with the lab for over 4 ½ years and has had the opportunity to work in both our Wireless Consortium as well as the NVMe Consortium for his GRA. Currently he is the lead developer on the NVMe IOL-Interact PC test tool which is distributed to members of the consortium. When asked about his experience with working on the test tools, he responded with, “I learned how to work on an ongoing project as opposed to a one-off school project. The development on IOL-Interact is continuous and we have fairly regular releases, so it is necessary to meet goals for the next release while thinking forward to future releases as well, which has been a much different experience.” He was also able to provide some insight on the specifics of his contribution, “I’ve also learned about writing a tool to satisfy customers. We get feedback and bug reports all of the time and so we need to constantly change the existing tool while also developing new content and so there is a balancing act on prioritizing what needs to get done first. Ultimately we want to have a tool that best tests a device for conformance to the NVMe specification but we need to make sure that we have the content that our vendors care about the most.”

Kristopher and Mike’s experiences are just a small piece of the overall contribution of students to UNH-IOL software test tools and overall interop and conformance testing success with our members. With the help of our student’s expertise and dedication, we have grown into one of the industry's premier and independent grounds for new technologies. A goal of the UNH-IOL is not only to educate our students but also to give them the satisfaction of directly benefiting the industry we and our students are so passionate about. We will continue to train the future engineers and provide them with hands-on experience to ultimately lead them into a promising future.