Mason Rhodes’ Path to Opportunities

Mason Rhodes in a navy Artemis polo shirt, standing in front of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft with his finger on top of the spacecraft at a far distance at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Mason Rhodes in a navy Artemis polo shirt, standing in front of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft with his finger on top of the spacecraft at a far distance at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Since the 8th grade, Mason Rhodes knew he wanted to be a part of NASA’s journey and research in some capacity. Rhodes is currently a senior majoring in Mechanical Engineering at Arkansas State University to get a chance to have a well-rounded education. By keeping up to date with NASA missions and projects, Rhodes was fascinated by NASA’s goal of researching and extending everyone’s knowledge of space.

Projects and the Space Grant

Mason Rhodes is a former NASA intern from the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. During his internship, he tested and modified a robotic arm as part of the Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon (PRISM) program that assisted in collecting and analyzing dust samples for lunar missions. The robot that Rhodes worked on is also easily interchangeable to allow for quick arrangements of parts and elements for different missions and requirements.

Rhodes was also affiliated with the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium Workforce Development Grant, during his internship. At NASA, the 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. Its main goal is to contribute to the nation’s science enterprise by funding education, research, and public engagement projects through a national network of university-based Space Grant consortia.

From Nowhere to Somewhere

Rhodes had a personal goal to obtain a NASA internship for about a decade. Growing up in the middle of Arkansas, he saw that there were no NASA centers within a 300+ mile radius. For the longest time, he believed that he did not have the experience and opportunity to even work at NASA. With this opportunity, he developed a passion for the work, and the ideals that the organization pushed upon him are beyond anything else.

“I didn’t go to your top college, I didn’t live in a hub for science, and I was just a student from a lower-income household a half-hour away from your nearest city. However, I quickly realized through my time at NASA that my previous judgments were entirely misconceived. It’s important to remember that anyone can be a NASA Intern. Regardless of where you came from, anyone and everyone can shape tomorrow,” Rhodes stated.

NASA offers opportunities for everyone! Check out our website for more information about these opportunities we have in store for you. Additionally, feel free to check out Joseph Birtman, another former NASA Intern, who believed that he couldn’t get an internship based on his skill sets and prior experience.

All Within Reach, Proving It’s Possible- Brooke Alviar

Photo Credit- Brooke Alviar
Photo Credit- Brooke Alviar

For some, our inspiration and love for space came from staring at a starry night sky. Despite whether our views were impeded from the light pollution deep in the city, or it was full and brimming with unimpeded clarity, our minds would forever remember the child-like wonderment and emotions we felt. For many of our interns, this experience was much the same. Even for NASA Intern Brooke Alviar, who’s eyesight as a child was terrible, her dreams and aspirations to work at NASA came from admiring the stars.

Hopes and Dreams

At ten years old, her idea of working at NASA meant becoming an astronaut. While it felt out of reach, she held onto the idea. While she was in high school, her best friend’s mother was an engineer at NASA. Just knowing someone at NASA provided a big boost and the idea of just working at NASA became real and attainable. In college, Alviar applied for and received an internship position at Ames Research Center.

“When I finally had the honor of accepting an internship with NASA, I felt as though I myself was reaching the stars.”

Inspiration and Projects

When people think about NASA, they think of space exploration, science experiments in micro-gravity, or rocketry. However, NASA is more than that. For Alviar, when she took her first computer science class during her junior year of college, she understood more and more that innovations in space start on the ground with analytical thinkers and doers.

Currently, she works on a project that enables an optimized business process flow for procurement within NASA teams. She uses python skills and some UX/UI knowledge to develop an automated application which covered end-to-end tracking, approval, and notification of any item that was procured by a team or individual. This allows for improved documentation of an item’s whereabouts, greater transparency in the approval process for an item to be acquired by a team, and a time savings for those responsible for providing status updates for the item. Overall, it reduces the number of human touch points and increases the time savings for a lengthy business process.

How You Can Be a Part of NASA

Do the stars inspire you? Is there a part of you that looks above at the wonders and amazingness of the universe? Be a part of NASA as a NASA Intern! Visit our website for more information on current and future NASA Internship opportunities. Also, be sure to check out our NASA Internship blog. We have plenty of inspirational content posted there, as well as helpful articles, such as the best practices when applying for a NASA Internship.