High School NASA Intern Works with Artificial Intelligence.

Drina Shah standing in front of the Goddard Space Flight Center.
Drina Shah standing in front of the Goddard Space Flight Center.

Reach for the stars because you might just become one! Drina Shah has a fascination with space exploration and engineering. When high school came around, Shah got the opportunity to work on NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative Project. Out of six schools across the nation, she was one out of eight students from her school to become a finalist.

With her interest in space exploration and engineering, and now her accomplishment from high school, she sought out an internship with NASA whose values align greatly with hers.

Artificial Intelligence Project

Currently, Shah is a Senior at Mooresville High School in North Carolina and a former NASA virtual intern at the Goddard Space Flight Center. The project that Shah worked on during her internship was an Artificial Intelligence based science translator for the spread of hydrological information.

Dreams Do Come True

NASA’s mission of innovating for the benefit of humanity and inspiring the world through discovery, and its core values of safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion inspired Shah to work for NASA. This internship meant the world to her and ended up being the very first job that she has ever had.

“It really was a dream come true opportunity for me and I’m sure it will help propel my career and my interest in space, engineering, and artificial intelligence,” Shah said.

If you are looking for a dream opportunity, check out our website for more information. You can also feel free to check out other fascinating stories such as Nicholas Houghton, who has a dream of becoming an astronaut and became an intern with an exciting position.

Grace Pham/ NASA Johnson Space Center

NASA Intern Studies the Stars

Anna Taylor standing next to a poster called “The Effect of Wind Speed and Roche Lobe Geometrics on the Wind Dynamics of Vela X-1" from NC State University.

Anna Taylor standing next to a poster called “The Effect of Wind Speed and Roche Lobe Geometrics on the Wind Dynamics of Vela X-1″ from NC State University.Anna Taylor, a former NASA intern from the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, wanted to know as much as she could about the sky full of stars she saw every night. In the 9th grade, Taylor competed in her first Science Olympiad, a premier team STEM competition, and realized that physics and astronomy was her ultimate passion.

The Stars are Aligning

“I believe in NASA’s initiative, and I want to contribute to our understanding of the universe,” Taylor said.

Currently, Anna Taylor is a senior at North Carolina State University where she is majoring in Physics and double minoring in Mathematics and Computer Science.

During her internship, she worked on a project where she modeled photospheres and chromospheres. A photosphere is a star’s outer shell where the light is radiating while a chromosphere is a red and gaseous layer above the photosphere.

She worked with the Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Lab which studies the formation and evolution of stars and planetary systems using advanced telescopes and theoretical techniques.

By identifying statistical trends linking stars to emissions, she would determine factors for the stars in the samples that she is given. Given this project, she would further NASA’s mission by researching these stars and help everyone understand how the universe is made, what else is out there, and how we all fit in.

Internship Takeaway

Taylor is grateful to take part in the astrophysics and astronomy field and is proud to be a part of the young female representation in such a male-dominated area

“This internship not only means I get to do research in coding and astrophysics which are my passions but also gives me an opportunity to meet so many smart and interesting people and learn all about what they do at NASA,” Taylor said.

Take the next step in becoming a NASA intern like Anna and learn more about the opportunities NASA has. Additionally, feel free to find out more about other NASA interns, such as Shalya Wilhelm’s experience of learning how to create oxygen on the moon for astronauts using lunar soil!

Grace Pham/ NASA Johnson Space Center

­­­­­­­To the Stars and Back: An Intern’s Five-Year Journey at NASA

Albert Kodua, a former NASA intern at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, standing next to a NASA sign.
Albert Kodua, a former NASA intern at the Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, standing next to a NASA sign

Curiosity is the essence of our existence. Starting as a 16-year-old junior in high school, Albert Kodua started his career with the Virginia Earth System Science Scholars Program. There, he worked with a team to create a mock NASA mission proposal, which gave him a chance to explore the field of Earth Science. The following year, he participated in the Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars Program.

California Wildfires

Greatness can begin beyond a comfort zone. Albert Kodua is currently a master’s student at Virginia Tech, majoring in Materials Science and Engineering. He is also a former NASA intern from the Armstrong Flight Research Center in California and is also affiliated with the Space Grant. Space Grant expands opportunities for individuals to understand and participate in NASA’s aeronautics and space projects by supporting and enhancing science and engineering education, as well as research and public outreach efforts.

At NASA, you generally think about rockets, planets, and outer space. However, at NASA, we study our home planet just as much as we do other celestial bodies. In fact, with our unique vantage point from space, we can gather unique data across the globe in order to help solve problems that happen on earth. For example, as an intern, Kodua studied California wildfires and examined their territorial and pollutant effects. The significance of this project was the use of a machine learning algorithm to connect plant species burned with gaseous pollutants released from wildfires. With this project, he essentially helped see which areas, if burned, could prove to produce more hostile effects on the environment.

Albert Kodua posing in front of a NASA aircraft.
Albert Kodua posing in front of a NASA aircraft.

Reach Your Full Potential

Growing up, Kodua had a lot of role models in STEM, but only a handful that looked like him. As a result, Kodua always tries to be an advocate for underrepresented minorities in STEM. As a mentor in his student career, and with assistance from his multiple mentors from his internship, he believes that mentorship is the key to successfully preparing the next generation of scientists and engineers to grow to their full potential.

This internship made Albert feel a confidence he had not felt in his academic abilities, and it gave him a new sense of journey as a student, and hopefully, long-time researcher.

Kodua worked with NASA L’SPACE, an online program that is open to undergraduate STEM students interested in pursuing a career with NASA. The program was a “hidden gem within the large amount of NASA educational opportunities” that has helped him realize his full potential as a researcher and future leader in STEM.

Are you interested in getting out of your comfort zone and reaching your fullest potential like Albert? Check out our website for internship opportunities! You may also want to check out other up-and-coming interns such as Bianca Ortega, a former NASA intern that worked hard to write her own story to represent Puerto Rican women in STEM.

Grace Pham/ NASA Johnson Space Center