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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.