By: Hailey Temple

When Ashanna Mckenzie began her summer internship with the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), she did not know how much the world of technology and firefighting would mix. However, her experience revealed the innovative ways industries are using technology to better serve society.

Mckenzie is a New York City native, so she was familiar with the ways FDNY contributed to her community. She wanted to spend her summer learning more about technology following her freshman year at the School of Information Studies (iSchool), so she joined a team of six other interns at FDNY to work in the information technology department.

As an intern, Mckenzie researched innovative technologies that FDNY wanted to use to fight fires. She learned about ways that response teams could take advantage of tools like Google Glass and aerial drones to assess fires in skyscrapers before entering a scene, or how tablets could be used to record and access information. She had a glimpse into the information systems they use in emergency responses and the data centers that store essential information.

“I never knew how much of a role technology could have in helping emergency situations,” said Mckenzie. “The internship showed me how we can use technology to solve problems that range from office issues to putting out fires.”

During one of her most memorable days at the internship, she toured the firefighter-training site and learned the strategy behind extinguishing large fires. “It gave me so much appreciation for what these firefighters do, and motivated me to do better work. When I was in the office, I wanted to make sure everything was perfect, out of respect for the firefighters,” said Mckenzie.

In her sophomore year, Mckenzie is now an dual iSchool/Newhouse major approaching the fields with new perspectives. She admits she was not sure what she was going to expect with her internship, but after a positive experience with FDNY, she learned to keep an open mind. After participating in the iSchool’s Retail Roadtrip in September, she gained better insight to possible avenues she can explore with technology.

“These experiences showed me that technology is now an essential part in any field,” said Mckenzie. “I want to keep an open mind and apply for internships in more fields because I never know what I will learn, and what I am really passionate about, if I don’t try.”