Navajo Intern Engineer Hopes to Inspire Native American STEM Students

As an American Indian College Fund ambassador and a Navajo engineer, Nylana Murphy aims to demonstrate to native students that the ‘world is for [them].’ 

Murphy first gained interest in NASA while learning about internships during the American Indian Science Engineering Society (AISES) National Conference: ‘a three-day event focused on educational, professional, and workforce development for Indigenous peoples of North America and the Pacific Islands.’ 

Following the AISES conference, MAIANSE, which seeks to increase American Indian and Alaska Native engagement in STEM through authentic NASA experiences, helped Murphy with a summer internship offer. 

Murphy used her networking skills to secure two additional NASA internships in the additive manufacturing research lab at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.  

‘An internship isn’t just a job — it’s a foundation. A foundation built for one’s success. My internships have helped me get to where I am. Without the great opportunity of hands-on communication, I wouldn’t be in the direction of aerospace,’ Murphy said. 

While working on the additive manufacturing project, Murphy gained hands-on technical experience within a team at the agency. During her internship, she also used three-dimensional printing for Inconel 625 powder, which plays a significant role in aerospace utility tasks.  

Along with her part-time internship, Murphy juggled life as a full-time student at Navajo Technical University, pursuing her degree in mechanical engineering with a concentration in additive manufacturing. 

Murphy hopes to use her degree and skill set to continue exploration and to inspire more Native American students in the world of STEM and NASA. 

‘There is a career for everyone, where their dreams can become reality. With a focus on education and the help of other technologically inquisitive Native students, those dreams WILL become a reality,’ Murphy said. 

Do YOU want to be on the NASA team? Check out our website to find information on eligibility and application steps. Or, for more inspirational stories about our interns, such as Mallory Carbon, check out some of our other intern features on our blog.

Carolina Rodriguez, STEM Engagement Communications Intern
Claire O’Shea, STEM Engagement Communications Intern, Editor
NASA Johnson Space Center

Pride, Dreams, NASA- Mallory Carbon

Mallory Carbon
Mallory Carbon

Mallory Carbon has dreamed of working at NASA since her childhood. Today, she is a former three-time intern, current analyst, and celebrating her first pride month all with NASA. This pride month, Carbon teamed up with NASA to come out to the world as a queer woman and offer a message of hope for those in the LGBTQ+ community. 

Courage and Pride

For Carbon, #PrideMonth serves not only as a celebration, but a time to educate others on LGBTQ+ history and call attention to the current challenges facing the community. 

‘Although we still have a long way to go, I can’t help but acknowledge that this is what progress looks like’ she said. Carbon hopes that members of the LGBTQ+ community can see those who have come forth this Pride Month as proof that queer people can dream big. 

‘Time and time again my experiences at NASA have shown me the value of showing up as your full self. Whether it was leading with my energetic and sparkly personality, sharing my experiences and love of the arts, or my identity as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, being myself has yet to lead me astray,’ Carbon said. 

As a matter of fact, it has opened more opportunities than she could have ever imagined. She now has the ‘courage to share all the things that made [her] different.’ 

NASA recently published a four-minute long #PrideMonth video, ‘Together We Rise,’ featuring Carbon and other employees. 

The NASA Ames LGBTQ+ Advisory Group participated in the 2019 San Francisco Pride Parade as a part of an annual tradition. (NASA Ames Research Center).
The NASA Ames LGBTQ+ Advisory Group participated in the 2019 San Francisco Pride Parade as a part of an annual tradition. (NASA Ames Research Center).

Her Journey at NASA 

Carbon’s first STEM job was an internship with the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts team (NIAC) in the Space Technology Mission Doctorate (STMD). While with the NIAC team, Carbon says she enjoyed working on many projects including data analytics, public affairs, communication, and graphic design. 

Not only was Carbon a three-time intern with the NIAC team, but she was also involved with the NASA Promoting Agency Cross-Center Collaboration (PAXC), a student-run group meant to develop connections between interns across each center. At PAXC, Carbon was National Director and made history by leading alongside the first all-female national board.  

Currently, Carbon has fulfilled her goal of working at NASA as an analyst in the Strategic Investments Division (SID). 

The theme for the 2019 Houston Pride celebration was ‘The Summer of ’69,’ celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. Space exploration and the importance of NASA to the Houston community was showcased throughout the festival and parade. (NASA Johnson Space Center).
The theme for the 2019 Houston Pride celebration was ‘The Summer of ’69,’ celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. Space exploration and the importance of NASA to the Houston community was showcased throughout the festival and parade. (NASA Johnson Space Center).

This #PrideMonth, NASA celebrates the significant contributions of LGBTQ+ employees, respects their individuality, and recognizes their contributions to advance NASA’s priorities. 

We support the positive movement to promote self-affirmation, dignity, equal rights, build community and create awareness for diversity and gender variance. 

Despite the obstacles in achieving full acceptance and protections for the LGBTQ+ community, the progress made over the past decades has been significant, yet the work continues. Together we rise to achieve our goals as one. 

For more, check out the NASA LGBTQ+ Pride Gallery with stories from the community across NASA. Do you want to start your own internship journey at NASA? Visit our website for internship requirements and information about opportunities. 

 

Carolina Rodriguez/ NASA Johnson Space Center
Claire O’Shea/ NASA Johnson Space Center