My Journey as an IOL Intern, to Programmer, to Working in Industry

We caught up with UNN-IOL Alumni, Joel Nkounkou, who is originally from Dover, NH. Joel is a former HighTech Bound intern from the summer of 2013 and continued on to work at the lab as a programmer in our SAS, SATA, and PCIe Testing Services. Overall, Joel worked at the lab from 2013-2018 and graduated from UNH last year with his BS in Electrical Engineering. Check out our interview with Joel in this blog!

How did you find out about the UNH-IOL?

I first found out about the UNH-IOL when I was in high school. I was within the “Project Lead the Way” program at Dover High my junior and senior year. My teacher at the time had suggested we  apply to the IOL high school internship, HighTech Bound. I was accepted into the 2013 group of summer interns. . After that experience I applied to UNH continued to work at the lab throughout my collegiate career.

Tell me about your experience working at the UNH-IOL?

During my summer internship, I worked in the Home Networking group under Tim Sheehan with TR-069 and various networking protocols. I migrated to the SAS/SATA/PCIe group when I was in college performing testing on physical drives. I wrote test scripts, upgraded scripts and learned so much about digital storage that it gave me the opportunity to experience other  summer internships at fortune 500 companies. Additionally, I’ve been able to attend conferences and network with industry professionals at age 19 and 20, building inter-ops systems and getting first hand experiences of how my work at the IOL can impact customers.

Fun part!! What has your journey been since graduation last year?

My journey has been hectic but extremely fun & eye-opening. I started full time at Intel as a product engineer, performing data analysis on the hardware validation and debugging processes of their drives. I have grown my skills as a software engineer as well which lead me to become a serious programmer. In parallel I have pursued my own venture, starting a startup company ( looking to provide digital textbooks to college students a semester subscription embedded within tuition. The advancements in that venture  led me back from California to New Hampshire where I have taken another software engineering role as a technical lead at Profit Tools while growing ecoText in NH.

How are you applying any UNH-IOL skills to your current role/job?

The problem-solving skills that I developed at the IOL from debugging testing issues is by far the most appreciated skill that I can apply in almost everything technical challenge. Whether I was trying to understand why a scope wasn’t displaying the data I was looking for, attempting to understand why a device was not responding, or even debugging the test setup, the IOL has given me a unique perspective of analysis that no technical problem is too big to tackle once you start to break down the issue.

Any tips/words of wisdom/closing thoughts?

I give a lot of props to the IOL for giving me the opportunity to jump into  into the industry at an early age. I was fortunate enough to develop tastes for different regions of the tech space that I ultimately wanted to pursue.  I just hope they continue with their mission by allowing young undergraduates and graduates to fuse their academic studies with work and see how much or how little their studies correlate to the industries they wish to step into.