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