The day started out drearily. There was a new, fresh layer of snow on the ground. It was over a foot high. It never occurred to me that the Princeternship might be canceled, however, so I trekked over to Nassau Street. When I arrived in front of 32 Nassau, the doors were locked. I called Su, and it turns out they had actually decided to cancel today. But as I turned around, Regina and Jen asked me, "Are you Rena? Come up and have a bagel." And I'm glad I did, as the Princeternship commenced anyway despite the snow.
First, I shadowed Su Wang ('09), who taught me a little bit about her work with the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and how APPRISE is responsible for helping programs such as those see if they are effective, from start to finish. The day was spent seeing just exactly what that meant. After that, I shadowed Regina Yang ('08), who told me all about her work with the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation and how, although many programs are beneficial to companies, they might still not opt to participate because of the little details and requirements involved.
Next was Jen. Through shadowing her, I learned how programs actually measure, tangibly, how effectively they are running. Jen's project was on measuring indoor air quality, which involved interviewing program participants and arranging pickups for and collecting data from their monitors on a strict calendar timeline a certain number of days after weatherization. I was allowed to listen in on a conference call observing an interview with a program participant. The surveyor had to be very careful not to ask leading questions, or seem rude in any way. This was especially important in screening calls with Parfait, the person I shadowed next after a delicious lunch at Winberies with Su and Regina. If a surveyor asked leading questions, or recorded incorrect data, it could jeopardize the integrity of the study. After screening a few phone interview recordings myself, checking for consistency and following the skipping patterns of the survey, I shadowed Brian and Ray last, who showed me how even smaller details of computer coding, how questions were asked, and especially grammar were very important in the surveys.
Lastly, Su, Regina, and I debriefed with Dr. Jackie Berger (*96), the director in charge, on what I learned today, and to address any questions I had. Jackie told me that sometimes people actually go out into the field and collect data themselves--something Jen had mentioned she really wanted to do if she gets the chance. After the meeting, I gave and received warm goodbyes to everyone, and thanked them for their time and patience.
All in all, this Princeternship has been very enlightening and gave me much insight into how a public research company, such as APPRISE, allows big government programs to measure their efficacy.