2020 Summer Intern Report: John “Jack” Snell


2020 Intern Jack Snell squareBackground
Piedmont Virginia Community College

Blood-Brain Barrier Opening Virtual Reality (VR) Simulation Project

Project Overview
My primary project was to create a simulation of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) opening procedure in an interactive VR environment that could potentially be used to educate practitioners and patients. The simulation also includes an animation that illustrates the effects of the BBB opening procedure in the brain.

Project Outcomes

Over the course of the summer my father (the Foundation’s Technical Director of the Brain Program, John Snell, PhD) and I were able to develop an early version of the project with the majority of the features we wished to include, but we hope to improve the quality and level of interactivity in the future.

Why were you initially interested in working with the Focused Ultrasound Foundation?
I was interested in working with the Foundation because I thought it would be a valuable opportunity to work on my programming, digital design, and modeling skills. It was beneficial to explore and learn more about these areas and better understand where my interests lie. I was also interested in learning more about the Foundation and its methods and goals, which I found to be extremely important.

Describe your experience as a FUSF intern.
Although this year made communication difficult, I found my time with the Foundation extremely productive, useful, and educational. I was able to hone my skills and accomplish the project I set out to create, at least in an early stage. The Foundation staff were very friendly, helpful, and welcoming and helped create an environment for productivity and education.

What was the most important learning point of your internship experience?
My most important learning experiences were learning how to model 3D objects in Fusion 360 as well as watching the MOOC videos on the applications of focused ultrasound.

Has your internship affected your career plans? If so, how?
I’m not entirely sure about what I plan to do as a career yet, but my internship has helped me better understand my skills and interests. I have found that I enjoy the digital design aspect of my project over the scripting/programming (although I appreciate that to a degree as well).

What is one tip that you would give 2021 summer interns?
One tip I would give to future interns is to create a schedule for your internship to keep track of meetings, project goals, and side projects. Having a solid plan of what needs to be accomplished will help ensure that you meet your goals, as well as contribute to building a habit that is important in any career.