News / Science & Technology

    NASA Interns Explore Space Careers

    NASA Interns Explore Space Careersi
    X
    Faiza Elmasry
    August 22, 2014 3:24 PM
    The U.S. space agency has its eyes on the future - not just future missions, but the scientists who will plan and carry out those missions. At NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington, a summer internship gives college, post-graduate and high school students a chance to work on projects in a variety of space-related fields. In return, these interns bring enthusiasm and a fresh perspective. Faiza Elmasry reports from Greenbelt, MD.
    Faiza Elmasry

    The U.S. space agency has its eyes on the future - not just future missions, but the scientists who will plan and carry out those missions. At NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington, a summer internship gives college, post-graduate and high school students a chance to work on projects in a variety of space-related fields. In return, these interns bring enthusiasm and a fresh perspective.

    Louis Parent enjoyed working with space robots. The University of Illinois mechanical engineering major is wrapping up his 10-week internship at Goddard, which he calls “probably the best internship” he’s ever had. “They had me work on a real project that really mattered, have some important data that what people do here and really contribute to real science and real engineering.”

    Interacting with his mentor and the other interns gave him a better understanding of what he needs in order to pursue a career in this field - a solid background in computer science.

    “Computer science isn’t my favorite course to study,” he admitted, “but I finally understood that it’s necessary, and seeing the applications here kind of makes you want to do it more.”

    Gaining experience

    That sort of transformative experience is a big part of the NASA internship, says Rick Obenschain, Goddard’s deputy director.

    “You train somebody here, you give them experiences, you give them enthusiasm, and they’re going to take it with them, whether they stay within NASA or stay in the government or in the industry,” he said.

    Obenschain stayed with NASA. He was an intern in 1962, a few years after the space flight center opened in Greenbelt, Maryland.

    “We were making small baby steps, which today a student or an intern would say, ‘Wow, this is something that you can do in 30, 40 minutes,'" he said with a chuckle. “Okay, it would take us weeks to figure something out.”

    The intern program has evolved a great deal since then. It’s directed by Mablelene Burrell, who proudly says there are more than 400 interns in the program this summer. More than 40 percent are women. “Most of our interns are from the STEM fields. They are engineers, the full range of engineers, from mechanical to electrical. We have many civil engineers, math majors. We have physics majors.”

    NASA’s intern programs are crucial to preparing the future workforce, says Robert Gabrys, director of the agency’s Office of Education.

    “We define workforce as anybody who would come to work for us, of course,” he explained, “but also who is going to work for one of the contractors who support our space program, or would go and work for a higher institution in a NASA-related field, or become a STEM teacher in a school system.”

    Matching projects and interns

    The scientists, engineers and technologists at Goddard write descriptions of the projects they want interns to work on, and students apply for the ones that interest them. That helps the researchers identify which students would be the best match for their projects.  

    Joseph Santanello, who also started his NASA career as an intern, says the students are an invaluable addition to the work environment.

    “We get a fresh perspective on how we’re working here, what we’re working on, not just the science part, but generally, how we interact with the community,” he said.

    Intern Patricia Lawston has been working with him for the past three summers. She says the internship has been an excellent experience as she pursues a doctorate in climatology.

    “Not only the computer resources that I have, but also the connections that I’ve made here,” she said. “It’s really nice coming back for my second and third summers, to walk in the building and see people who recognize and call me by name and to know that any point I can email them and email Joe [Santanello] with any questions I have about my research that’s been very beneficial to me even when I get back to school.”

    That ongoing mentoring and collaboration helps the scientists, the students, and the U.S. space program.

     

     

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.