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Summer Student to Software Engineer

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2. October 2017 by Even Ødegaard
During the summer of 2016, I was part of an internship at Kongsberg Maritime. Then the following spring I carried out a master's thesis, again for Kongsberg Maritime. Two months ago, I started my job as an R&D Software Engineer in the Marine Robotics department at Kongsberg Maritime. So far, this has turned out to be both challenging and rewarding; a position in which I have been trusted with responsibilities from the first week.

During the summer of 2016, I worked as a summer student at Kongsberg Maritime in Horten. The project I worked on, Survey USV, had an ambitious goal; Our 6 person team was tasked with taking a remote controlled vessel and, over the following 8 weeks, transform it into a solution for autonomous, unmanned surveying of the sea floor. My role in this project was mainly related to development of solutions for navigation and control of the vessel, a fairly familiar field for me as a Cybernetics and Robotics student from NTNU, though I was lacking the practical experience.

Throughout the summer, Kongsberg Maritime provided us with the resources needed to maintain a steady progress towards our goal, making sure we did not have any unnecessary delays. I think it is safe to say that we all experienced the vast difference between the theoretically optimal solutions we had learned during our education, and the simpler and more reliable solutions needed when working with a real-world problem and a strict deadline.

We also experienced the potential value that computer simulations could have in a field like this, as a significant part of our available time was spent conducting sea trials. This was of course not an entirely awful experience, (sea trials during the summer tend to be pleasant!), but it still cost us valuable time.

To solve this issue for future projects, I was offered the chance to perform my specialisation project and master's thesis at NTNU developing a Hardware-In-the-Loop simulator for a general surface vehicle, and modelling the vessel dynamics of both the vessel we used in our project and the USV Odin, with supervision from both NTNU and Kongsberg Maritime. This turned out to be an exciting last year, especially considering that the simulator would go on to be used in future projects with both summer students and permanent employees.

As my time at NTNU came to an end, I was offered a position as a software R&D engineer in Marine Robotics, an offer I couldn't refuse after the good experiences I had during both my summer internship and master's thesis, and in August 2017 my time as a permanent employee in Kongsberg Maritime began.

For now, my tasks are rather diverse; most are in some way related to the development of control systems on the HUGIN and MUNIN AUVs, which are large systems that have been in constant development during the last 2 decades. The transition from my time as a summer student to working with these systems was significant, as the Survey USV project started off with blank pages. A large part of my tasks now involves working with legacy code, a term I had barely heard of during my studies. This, it turns out, is an interesting challenge; the software developed for HUGIN and MUNIN contains quite some history and I am excited to become a part of this story.