Meagan Gentry ’14 is participating in an internship with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Research Triangle Park, N.C. She works with a group in the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards on the continued development of statistical mapping software, BenMAP, which is used for modeling and monitoring the effects of air quality policy changes.
The specific project on which Gentry is focused is the redesign and reformatting of the existing BenMAP manual, with the goal of turning it into a product that users worldwide can access with ease. She says this project will improve user experience with better instructional and educational content for the software, ultimately speeding up the completion of tasks and affording users a place for discourse about the software.
“Not only do I get experience working with web document design software to build the online content,” said Gentry, “I also get to learn the BenMAP software inside and out. Earning proficiency in two skills at once is both a reward and a challenge.”
As Gentry is the first intern to tackle this project, she says it allows her artistic freedom. Her supervisors empower her to freely express her ideas and put her own personal touches on the outcome.
Gentry has always taken interests in environmental and atmospheric science; in fact, she began her undergraduate career in the meteorology program before redirecting her studies into a double major in statistics and economics. Gentry, who is also pursuing a minor in technical and scientific communication, says her internship with the EPA has been valuable in honing her knowledge and skills in information architecture and usability design.
When asked what advice she would share with incoming NC State students, Gentry said, “Doing what you love may involve a lot of seemingly unrelated disciplines – and that’s totally fine.”
Story by Laura Turner