Lunar Soil: The Key to Breathing in Space- Shayla Wilhelm

Shayla Wilhelm standing in front of the Launch Crawler
Shayla Wilhelm standing in front of the Crawler Transporter.

If you can dream it, you can do it. Shayla Wilhelm saw the frothy sea of the Milky Way as she grew up in a small town in New York. Using a telescope, Wilhelm saw stars and planets shining everywhere across the sky. After realizing how much she loved what she saw in the sky, she ended up seeing a future in aerospace engineering. 

Oxygen in Space 

If astronauts on the moon can harness the oxygen under their feet, sustaining a human presence on the moon may not be so difficult after all,” Wilhelm said. Currently, Wilhelm is a junior at the Florida Institute of Technology where she is majoring in Aerospace Engineering. As a former NASA intern at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, she worked on the Molten Regolith Electrolysis (MRE) Project. 

The purpose of the MRE Project is to create oxygen on the Moon and to use it in astronaut tanks. By taking the soil on the Moon, Wilhelm would then melt it and run an electric current through it. This would split apart the metal oxides into molten metal and oxygen. After this process, the metal would then sink, allowing the oxygen to be separated, harvested, and eventually purified and distributed. 

This process is potentially an important step in setting up long-term research centers on the moon and beyond. 

Internship Takeaway 

As an intern, Wilhelm had a very hard time to describe an “average” day while at NASA. While she spent every single day differently, she is grateful that her days as an intern was always a unique experience. From staying in the lab and analyzing data, to working in the machine shop and getting her hands dirty, Wilhelm would always be excited and feel lucky enough to take on these new and innovative tasks every single day. Wilhelm also got the opportunity to expand upon her software skills, improve her technical writing, and more. 

Have you ever dreamed of working with NASA? Check out our website for more opportunities and information. Also, feel free to read more exciting stories such as Andrew Hoang, another former NASA intern who worked on parachute landings! 

Intern Contributes to Laser Welding in Space Advancements

A technician performs welding on the KAMAG spacecraft transporter, inside a facility at the crawler yard at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Welding is being performed on the attach points that will hold the Orion transportation pallet in place (NASA/Ben Smegelsky).
A technician performs welding on the KAMAG spacecraft transporter, inside a facility at the crawler yard at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Welding is being performed on the attach points that will hold the Orion transportation pallet in place (NASA/Ben Smegelsky).

Trying out something can lead to a new passion. Rama Diop was encouraged by her chemistry teacher during her junior year of high school to apply for a welding engineering internship at Ohio State University. At the time, Diop wasn’t sure what welding engineering entailed, but she decided to apply anyway. During her internship, Diop did hands-on work including sample preparation, quantitative and qualitative analysis, and developed etching procedures. The internship she was once unfamiliar with led to her majoring in welding engineering at Ohio State University.

Welding Engineering Experiences

Diop went on to be involved with several research projects with applications to nuclear, biomedical, and automotive industries. In one project, she examined the correlation between fracture toughness and impact toughness of several grades of steel. She’s also studied the reduction of solidification cracking in aluminum alloys. Recently, she worked on a joint program with the biomedical engineering department to mimic aspects of the bone remodeling process.

Currently, Diop is an intern in the Metal Processes and Manufacturing Branch at the Marshall Space Flight Center supporting the Laser Welding in Space project. Welding in space allows for repairing, manufacturing, and assembling parts. Diop’s project aims to revisit and further the exploration of technologies in space, as an in-space welding experiment has not been conducted since 1973 on Skylab, the first United States space station.

“It means a lot to have been able to come here and participate in this internship. I have always wanted to come here and participate in this internship, so when the opportunity presented itself, I was ecstatic. I have been able to network with a lot of people and learn more about NASA’s mission,” Diop said.

Internship Takeaways

Diop says an internship with NASA is a great way to see what her role could look like in the welding engineering industry, and she is excited to apply the skills she’s gained in her previous research projects. This session, Diop hopes to explore different applications of welding, experience research on a larger scale, expand her coding ability, and branch into more computational modeling.

“I’m disappointed that my time here is coming to an end, but I have thoroughly enjoyed working here and am happy knowing that the work I have done will be used to help further the aims of this project,” Diop said.

If you’re looking to gain hands-on experience and valuable mentorship, check out our website for opportunities. Or continue reading inspiring stories such as Alex Suh, an intern researching the effects of spaceflight on the human body.

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

 

Get Involved with NASA Days

 

‘NASA Days is one of the coolest events I’ve seen that’s open to the general public,’ Marco Guidino, an intern at NASA, said. ‘They give students the opportunity to interact with scientists, discuss resumes, and network.’ NASA is supporting the dreams of students from traditionally underrepresented and underserved communities to enter careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (NASA HQ).
‘NASA Days is one of the coolest events I’ve seen that’s open to the general public,’ Marco Guidino, an intern at NASA, said. ‘They give students the opportunity to interact with scientists, discuss resumes, and network.’ NASA is supporting the dreams of students from traditionally underrepresented and underserved communities to enter careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (NASA HQ).

NASA Days, a Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) activity, was created to increase awareness and opportunity among students at Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). The program is designed to give an overview of NASA’s OSTEM internship program, NASA Pathways Intern Employment Program (IEP), and NASA Fellows activities. 

What is NASA Days?

The activity consists of four sessions. The sessions cover steps detailing the Gateway and OSTEM internship application process, an overview of NASA organizations from their subject matter experts, interview skills, resume reviews, interview strategies, best practices, and collaboration efforts among researchers, professors, and scientists. 

During Marco Guidino’s NASA internship, he wanted to pass on knowledge and help students get connected, so he decided to help run a joint NASA Days event featuring Kennedy Space Center, Langley Research Center, and Marshall Space Flight Center. 

NASA Days is one of the coolest events I’ve seen that’s open to the general public,” Guidino says. “They give students the opportunity to interact with scientists, discuss resumes, and network.” 

Retired NASA Employee Joann Morgan briefing students at Montana State University for NASA Days. Jose Nunez briefing students at Morehouse School of Medicine during NASA Days (NASA/Priscilla Moore).
Retired NASA Employee Joann Morgan briefing students at Montana State University for NASA Days. Jose Nunez briefing students at Morehouse School of Medicine during NASA Days (NASA/Priscilla Moore).

One thing Guidino has learned from his attendance at NASA Days events is to put yourself out there and ask specific questions for the role you are interested in. 

Networking

During the networking mixer portion of the event, NASA managers present an overview of their divisions to attendees. Following this presentation, students separate into small groups where managers rotate answering questions and engaging in conversation with the students.  

Resume Review

In the resume review session, managers divide students for interviews dependent on the project they would be best suited for or for a general interview. In this process, several students are usually selected or referred for internship opportunities. 

If attending a NASA Days event is something you are interested in, NASA Days will be supporting the in-person and virtual career fair at The Annual National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Week Conference 

Additionally, Texas Southern University in Houston will be hosting the NASA Days and NASA HBCU Tech Infusion Road Tour which will also be a hybrid event. 

Want to intern with NASA? Check out our website for details on available opportunities. 

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

 

 

Medical Student + NASA Intern hopes to research the physiological effects of spaceflight on astronauts

'Every day this summer, I’m excited to get out of bed and learn more about the effects of spaceflight on the human body. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be a flight surgeon one day,’ Alex Suh, Cardiovascular and Vision Intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said. (NASA/Alex Suh).
‘Every day this summer, I’m excited to get out of bed and learn more about the effects of spaceflight on the human body. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be a flight surgeon one day,’ Alex Suh, Cardiovascular and Vision Intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said. (NASA/Alex Suh).

If it’s meant to be, it will come back. Alex Suh’s opportunity at an internship was taken away due to the pandemic, but he didn’t give up on his dreams. Now, he is researching the effects of spaceflight on the human body as an intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Read about his second chance at following both of his career passions: medicine and space.

His Opportunity Vanishes

Suh applied for a NASA internship during his last year being an undergrad. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, he was unable to continue the process of becoming an intern. Suh felt he had lost his chance to fulfill his childhood dream of working in the space industry since he would soon get busy with his strict academic path toward medical school. Suh had never even heard of a medical student interning at NASA.

Almost two years later, Suh learned that he would receive ten weeks off for summer vacation between his first and second year of medical school and thought this would be the ideal time to try again for an internship opportunity.

A Second Chance

Suh decided to apply and jumped up and down in excitement when he received an acceptance letter to research the physiological effects of spaceflight on the human body at the Johnson Space Center. He loved his initial experience as an intern and decided to extend his internship part-time into the fall while also taking preclinical courses at Tulane University School of Medicine as a Cardiovascular and Vision Intern.

(NASA/Alex Suh)
(NASA/Alex Suh)

“This internship has given me an opportunity of a lifetime to explore the field of aerospace medicine at a place where it is most applicable and exciting — Johnson Space Center. Every day this summer, I’m excited to get out of bed and learn more about the effects of spaceflight on the human body. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be a flight surgeon one day,” Suh said.

If you’re interested in interning at NASA, visit the website for information on opportunities and requirements. Read about more interns on the intern blog, such as Susie Bennett’s story on her path to an Exploration Research and Technology Programs internship.

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

Touchdown! Intern Works on Safe Parachute Landings

An image of Andrew Hoang
Credit: Andrew Hoang

One choice can open many doors and provide the experience of a lifetime. For Andrew Hoang, it was his decision to join a research lab, eventually leading to his internship at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.

“An experience like no other, I have enjoyed every moment of my time as a NASA intern. I hope to use what I have learned to inspire others to pursue their goals, whether it’s applying for an internship at NASA or a dream job,” Hoang said.

Discovery

Hoang joined a research lab while studying at UNC Chapel Hill in order to gain experience outside of the classroom. His time in the lab led to a fascination with the effects of the undersea environment on human physiology.

Hoang learned about existing clinical problems such as decompression sickness (DCS), which occurs when dissolved gases form bubbles inside the body. He felt called to find potential solutions.

Hoang’s research experience introduced him to medical problems in space. The pressurized environment is one of the causes of DCS. While searching for more information on the space and DCS connection, Hoang stumbled upon NASA internships and decided to apply.

“I believed that obtaining an internship would give me the rare opportunity to connect with world-class field experts to gain invaluable insight in aerospace as well as be at the forefront of research development projects. Therefore, I decided to pursue the NASA internship and make the best of every moment here,” Hoang said.

NASA’s Scientific Balloon Program is back in Wanaka, New Zealand, for another flight test of its super pressure balloon, or SPB, technology to support science missions for longer flight durations, with flights running up to 100 days. (NASA/Wallops Flight Facility).
NASA’s Scientific Balloon Program is back in Wanaka, New Zealand, for another flight test of its super pressure balloon, or SPB, technology to support science missions for longer flight durations, with flights running up to 100 days. (NASA/Wallops Flight Facility).

Balloon Research and Development

Currently, Hoang interns at the Balloon Research and Development Laboratory and studies the service life of gondola parachutes used in recovering equipment from high-altitude balloon campaigns.

Hoang determines how much strength in the gondola parachute material is lost following each flight and explores possible solutions to reduce the loss. Reusing the parachute is vital to reduce costs for flight materials, explore other cost-effective avenues for conducting investigations on planetary sciences, and encourage the development and improvement of reusable parachutes.

NASA completed the final test to qualify Orion’s parachute system for flights with astronauts, checking off an important milestone on the path to send humans on missions to the Moon and beyond in September 2018. (NASA/Wallops Flight Facility).
NASA completed the final test to qualify Orion’s parachute system for flights with astronauts, checking off an important milestone on the path to send humans on missions to the Moon and beyond in September 2018. (NASA/Wallops Flight Facility).

“Attaining this internship proved that all the meticulous efforts and extra hours I put in to create a holistic application were worth it. I learned a lot about myself as I filled out the application. I have been grateful for the immense support and dedication that my mentors and fellow staff members have given me during my time as an intern,” Hoang said.

Mentorship

Mentors, Dr. Sarah Roth and Dr. Christopher Yoder, taught Hoang how to improve his networking skills, connected him with professionals in his future career field, and gave him tips on creating an effective experimental plan for future implementation.

“NASA is a place for everyone of any major and background. If you want to make a positive impact on the world, NASA provides the available resources and opportunities to help you accomplish that goal. Never stop asking questions. Dream big and aim high. Everyone has the capability of making a huge contribution towards the advancement of humankind,” Hoang said.

Continue learning about inspiring NASA interns and read about a fellow intern’s journey. If you want to be part of the advancement of NASA missions, visit our website to learn about qualifications and opportunities.

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

 

Student’s Shift in Career Aspirations Leads to Internship

Monica Saraf is currently working on the SCaN NASA Cloud Architecture. She is an advocate for women in technology and studies cybersecurity at Purdue University. 
Monica Saraf is currently working on the SCaN NASA Cloud Architecture. She is an advocate for women in technology and studies cybersecurity at Purdue University.

‘As a four-year-old, Monica Saraf repeatedly played the ‘Big Space Shuttle’ DVD that her parents had gifted her. As she watched, her interest in space grew. Monica learned about the heat capacity and assembly of tiles on a shuttle, the NASA Neutral Buoyancy Lab, and the women who have ventured to space. 

‘I lost track of the number of times I watched it. It all fascinated me to the point that I made the decision: I was going to become an astronaut one day,’ Saraf said. 

Throughout her elementary years, Saraf daydreamed about becoming an astronaut. She even attended camp at the NASA Kennedy Space Center. 

Cybersecurity

Despite quickly declaring her dream role, as she grew older, Saraf’s interests changed. There was a shift in focus from exploration to cybersecurity. While in middle school, Saraf participated in cybersecurity programs and competitions, fueling her new passion. 

In high school, Saraf discovered NASA’s cybersecurity internships, leading back to her previous passion for the agency’s work. With the help of mentors, Saraf applied and was accepted for her first internship. 

‘It’s an absolute honor and privilege to be working for an agency that puts not only its employees first, but also its interns. We’re here to help make a difference, and our mentors make sure we know that. Every one of us is given a project that can truly impact the agency, and the support necessary to do so,’ she said.

Blending Cybersecurity and NASA

Saraf decided to return to NASA every summer since her initial internship. She is interning with the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program for the fourth time. 

The SCaN Internship Project (SIP) allows students to perform hands-on training with real mission scenarios, analyze powerful space communication systems, utilize network software tools, and effectively communicate their findings in a final presentation to NASA management.  
The SCaN Internship Project (SIP) allows students to perform hands-on training with real mission scenarios, analyze powerful space communication systems, utilize network software tools, and effectively communicate their findings in a final presentation to NASA management.

‘It means a lot that I get to participate in an internship where I feel valued. Being someone who has dreamed of working at NASA for most of her life, my past NASA internship experiences do not disappoint. They have given me even more reason to continue to work hard in my field and learn as much as I can,’ she said. 

If you are looking to start exploring, visit our website for more information about internship opportunities available and qualification requirements. Need help getting ready for a NASA internship? Check out 10 Ways to Prepare for a NASA internship. 

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

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

NASA Interns Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Guess what we are celebrating? Across the agency, NASA is proud to commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month, the annual observance honoring the cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans. At NASA, we celebrate the countless and enduring impacts Hispanics and Latinos have made at NASA and beyond. As scientists and engineers driving innovation and technology, entrepreneurs energizing our economy, advocates leading social and political change, and creatives bringing to life our arts and humanities, NASA recognizes the value of diversity and inclusion and the need for the continuation of change.

Hear from our current interns on their experiences as Hispanics at NASA and their advice to current and potential applicants.

Laura Paulino, Montclair State University

“Being Hispanic at NASA means working to ensure a voice and a place in the future for an underrepresented and underprivileged community. It means doing this with the joy, diversity, and good food that we share across our cultures.

I grew up in the most impoverished province in the Dominican Republic. I think about my privilege as someone who has been given the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and trauma. Whenever I feel like I can’t do something, I think about all the people back home who were never given the options and opportunities that I have. When I can’t face my fears for myself, then I do it for them. Our decisions are so much bigger than ourselves,” Paulino said.

Laura Paulino interns with NASA Ames Research Center and studies at Montclair State University as a graduate student. She encourages the Artemis Generation to stay inspired knowing that their work will save the planet.

Yesenia Sanchez, Columbia University

“Diversity in ideas and how to approach problems is what is most valuable. This allows us to solve problems differently and value ideas that diverge from our own but work towards a greater good. Representation can only get us so far, what we need is to be listening and working with each other.

I especially want to advise non-STEM students to take a shot at an internship. NASA is so much more than just engineers; it is also historians and archivists working hard to preserve NASA’s legacy. This has been one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as an intern. I also say to keep trying and not be disappointed if your first time applying is not successful,” Sanchez said.

Yesenia Sanchez interns with the history team at NASA Headquarters. She studies International and World History at the London School of Economics at Columbia University.

Andrea Lastra, University of Houston

“It’s incredible to think that just 12 years ago, a 9-year-old me came into this country without knowing English and not knowing exactly what she wanted to do when she ‘grew up’.  After years of constant hard work, setbacks, and dreaming about the future, I finally made it to NASA! I am proud and happy to be an Engineer, to be a NASA Intern, and most importantly, to be Hispanic,” Lastra said.

Andrea Lasta interns at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center and studies mechanical engineering at the University of Houston. She wants potential applicants to know that interning at NASA is attainable. Once you get over the hurdle of not feeling good enough, anything you set your mind to is possible.

Gabriel A. Colon Sanchez,  University of Puerto Rico

“Being Hispanic at NASA shows how diverse the world is. It proves that we are all part of a bigger community where we encourage each other to become better people. It feels amazing to represent my country and my people in such great experiences.

For students like me who saw this as a dream, believe in yourself and work hard. Join clubs and participate in whatever activities you can! Every experience moves us forward in our careers. Try to become a leader in your community and inspire others,” Colon Sanchez said.

Colon Sanchez interns at NASA Stennis Space Center and studies software engineering at the University of Puerto Rico.

Mia Belle Frothingham, Harvard University                         

“It means getting to be exactly who I am with my colleagues and being able to include my culture and values through my work and contribution at NASA. I love meeting other Hispanic co-workers; it reminds me to celebrate what makes us and our community beautiful!

Never give up. It takes immense determination and dedication to achieve big things in life, failures or rejections should never put you down. Pursue what you love, find your passion and follow it,” Frothingham said.

Mia Belle Frothingham interns at NASA Headquarters and studies biology at Harvard University.

Cindy Valdez, Los Angeles City College

“Don’t let fear, judgment, lack of representation, or lack of support stop you from following your passions and dreams. Get involved in competitions and professional organizations to narrow down your major concentration and career path.

Don’t ignore opportunities to work in a group, as this will expose you to the soft skills that are often overlooked: interacting with different personalities, leveraging talent, learning from other perspectives, negotiating, or resolving differences.

There is no set formula that you can emulate to obtain an internship at NASA. Take the route less traveled and start believing in yourself; soon both your path and new opportunities will unfold. There is no need to chase a NASA internship. It will come to you,” Valdez said.

Cindy Valdez interns at NASA Ames Research Center and studies aerospace engineering at the Los Angeles City College.

No matter where you come from or what you are studying, you too can reach for the stars.  Spring internship applications open the first day of October, apply at intern.nasa.gov. If you’re looking for more information on Hispanic Heritage Month, check out the NASA page.

Waryn R. Flavell

Claire A. O’Shea

 

Podcasts Highlight the NASA Intern Experience

If you’re fascinated by the idea of interning at NASA, contributing to NASA missions and exploring the extraordinary every day, you’ve come to the right place. Listen to #NASAinterns experiences via NASA’s Podcasts! Don’t see a topic here that you want to learn more about? Tweet us your recommendation!

Houston, We Have a Podcast: How to Be a Successful Intern at NASA

Interns Jaden Chambers from Kennedy Space Center and Leah Davis from Johnson Space Center are joined by mentor Kelly Smith in this episode examining the highly effective habits of successful interns. This episode will be available July 29 at https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/HWHAP.

The Invisible Network Podcast: 2021 Interns

Each year, NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Internship Project welcomes students of all levels to develop projects of real benefit to the agency while earning real world experience in their fields. In this episode of The Invisible Network podcast, we’ll speak with members of 2021’s intern cohort at three different NASA centers. This episode was published on July 29 at https://www.nasa.gov/invisible.

Small Steps, Giant Leaps Podcast: Intern Takeover

Interns take over the Small Steps, Giant Leaps, podcast from NASA’s Academy of Program/Project & Engineering Leadership (APPEL) Knowledge Services. This episode was published on July 29 at https://www.nasa.gov/podcasts/small-steps-giant-leaps.

Women in STEM

Sophia Hahn, Shelita Hall, and Emily Anderson, NASA interns from across the agency, discuss being women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math), their journey to work at NASA, and the unique opportunities they have experienced during their internship. This episode was recorded on June 14, 2021 and available at https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/HWHAP/women-in-stem.

Uncommon Origins

Shawn Cvetezar, Laura Paulino, and Don Caluya, NASA interns representing NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Ames Research Center, and Johnson Space Center, respectively, reflect upon the non-traditional paths that led them to NASA and share the many areas and projects that are benefitting from their experience. This episode was recorded on May 27, 2021 and available at https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/HWHAP/uncommon-origins.

Citizen Science on Station

Sarah Smith, a NASA intern, interviews students who were recently selected to fly their experiments to the International Space Station as part of the program under NASA’s STEM on Station initiative called Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science, or SPOCS. The interviews for this episode were recorded in March of 2021 and available at https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/HWHAP/citizen-science-on-station.

Better Together

Shaneequa Vereen, public affairs specialist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, speaks with NASA interns as they recount their journey with NASA, sharing their backgrounds and experiences they had before and during their time with the agency.  The content for this episode was recorded on February 5, 2021 and available at https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/HWHAP/better-together.

Pathways

Jonathan Abary, Pathways Program Manager, and Alexis Vance, Pathways intern in the crew and thermal systems division, discuss the Pathways internship program at NASA Johnson Space Center. This podcast was recorded on March 20th, 2019 and available at https://www.nasa.gov/johnson/HWHAP/pathways.

Want more? Learn more about NASA Internships by:

As NASA continues to move forward with the Artemis program, you, the Artemis Generation and future STEM workforce, will help take us to distant worlds. Are you ready? Visit us and apply at https://intern.nasa.gov.

NASA Intern to Students: Explore, Discover, and Apply!

Credits: Marvin Jones.

My name is Marvin Q. Jones, Jr. I am a PhD student majoring in astrophysics at the Indiana University Bloomington. I am currently interning at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the title of my intern project is “Pulsed Fission Fusion (PuFF) Propulsion System.”

Name: Marvin Q. Jones, Jr.
Degree: Astrophysics, PhD student
Institution: Indiana University Bloomington
NASA Center: Marshall Space Flight Center
Project Title: Pulsed Fission Fusion (PuFF) Propulsion System

About my project:
PuFF aims to create a propulsion system that will take exploration to new levels with goals of missions to Mars, Alpha Centauri, and other deep space exploration. The PuFF concept makes use of mathematical and physics models in COMSOL to simulate feasibility and efficiency of various components such as the pusher plate nozzle and electromagnetic coil gun. Physically, the system will take in lower energy input, which will lead to a smaller, less expensive (hybrid) propulsion system. Lower energy input will translate into smaller capacitor banks and a smaller overall propulsion system. A smaller system would have far reaching applications toward other projects with NASA.

My journey to NASA and advice to students:
I have wanted to work for NASA since the 5th grade when my teacher, Mr. John Evans who currently works for NASA, taught my class to build a Mars terrain, and use LEGOs to build and program our own rovers. My internship strengthened my desire to be a computational astrophysicist for NASA and apply to become an Astronaut. Exploring space vehicle design, physics models, numerical simulation, and applications to space exploration was an experience I will treasure when I hope to someday see Earth from space. This internship helped me realize that my background, my village, and training fully prepared me to do the work.

Growing up in Newport News, VA, and living in Newsome Park, VA, which was where Dorothy Vaughn lived for a period of her life feels like a deeper connection to those formerly Hidden Figures who came before me. North Carolina A&T State University, my undergraduate institution, always taught me to explore, discover, and become anything I thought possible. North Carolina A&T didn’t teach me what to think but how to think, which for any intern is key. Thinking about problems and asking good questions is an artform that every intern at NASA needs in their toolkit.

Credits: Marvin Jones.

I think any student with a curious mind should give the internship program a try. No question I asked was too small or too great, experimentation with ideas was highly encouraged, the ability to contribute and be heard was appreciated, and the skills I gained are unfathomable. I would advise any applicant to assess their current skills and the skills they desire–speak on both as they apply. It is about being teachable just as much as it is about what you contribute. As I stare at the canvas of my future, NASA has given me new skills to curate a masterpiece. To students: explore, discover, and apply!