Summer Interns Return to IV&V

Year round intern and NEAP assistant Sarah Layman has been with the program since 2011. She works with the STEM Initiatives Lead to help with the summer college and high school interns.

It’s summer intern season here at NASA’s IV&V Program and for 22 college and high school interns, this means an experience they won’t forget.

The high school interns represent high schools located all over West Virginia, while the college interns represent colleges located throughout the entire United States. The six college interns here this summer represent the program’s 4th class of the 10-week long Summer College Internship Program (SCIP), and the 16 high school interns are the program’s 18th class of the 8-week longNASA IV&V Engineering Apprenticeship Program (NEAP). Both internship programs provide professional work experience, exposure to IV&V efforts and an opportunity to experience real engineering and financial management careers. For one project mentor, the work with his two high school interns has already proven to be a positive experience.  

“They are absorbing all this technical information faster than I could have ever imagined and are already blowing away my expectations for what we will have achieved toward the end of this summer,” Space Flight Design Challenge OC-Flight-1 project mentor Steven Hard said.  

The intent of the NASA IV&V Space Flight Design Challenge is to provide a STEM opportunity for students to engage in the design and fabrication of a space-based system so these skills become more common for the next generation of engineers and scientists. The internship project was designed to given students the opportunity to join the OC-Flight-1 experienced engineering team and engage in designing system requirements and architectures as well as solving specific mission challenges. As part of this team, high school interns Tori Snyder and Eric Post have and will continue to access hands-on experience that includes subsystem component/payload integration, acceptance level testing, and amateur radio communications.  

summer interns


Summer interns

Pictured above, Snyder and Post test individual solar cells for continuity and the overall solar panel’s voltage output when placed perpendicular to a high intensity light source. Pictured below this, mentor Hard and intern Post test transceiver communication with the project’s ground station handytalkies (HTs) that are connected to a SmartPad running an app to decode the packet.  

Another ongoing summer internship project is the Energy Efficiency project mentored by David Sheldon and David Dial. This project gives college intern Jack Wilkins the opportunity to work with the program’s facility team to explore ways to increase energy efficiency here at the program. Wilkins will also be researching industry best practices for efficient lighting, ran water collection systems and will submit his findings in a report at the end of the summer. Pictured below, mentor Sheldon and intern Wilkins go over building plans and operations.


Summer interns

In addition to this professional experience, the NEAP interns will have the opportunity in August to present their projects to NASA Headquarters. The interns and mentors are listed below. 

College Interns

Nick Ohi – Mentor: Ricky Forquer 
Jaclyn Hobbs – Mentor: Ricky Forquer 
Logan Smithson – Mentor: Todd Gauer
Chris Gatto – Mentor: Scott Kinney
Jack Wilkins – Mentor: David Sheldon
Michael Solomon – Mentor: Jerry Sims
High School Interns 

Matthew Gramlich and Jonathan Lister – Mentor: Ricky Forquer
Michael Fouts and Esha Halabe – Mentor: Ryan Starn
Tori Snyder and Eric Post – Mentor: Steven Hard
Rachel Tyras and Trey Duckworth – Mentor: Rick Hess
Robert Hewitt – Mentor: Don Kranz
Wyatt Kitzmiller and Evan Lynn – Mentor: Joelle Spagnuolo-Loretta
Cortney Mercer and Bertalan Czinege – Mentor: Jerry Sims
Eric Tennant and Ryder Huggins – Mentor: Scott Kinney
Cole Frasher – Mentor: Stephen Driskell

Congratulations are due to these interns and a special thanks to the program for supporting these internship initiatives. Here’s to a great summer!

Sarah Layman
NEAP Assistant
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program

IV&V ERC's Use of Ground-Penetrating Radar

Pam Casto is an education specialist in NASA IV&V’s Educator Resource Center. She is also a freelance archeology technician.

Many are surprised to learn that Googling the term “NASA Archaeology” will return 6,060 hits.

NASA, while developing remote sensing technology to examine far off places, has made life much easier for archaeologists on Earth. In the past searching for a lost tomb, lost city or even an entire lost civilization could take months or years. Now, it often only takes days.

With instruments on many different types of spacecraft, NASA examines the universe in many wavelengths of light: radio waves, microwaves, infrared waves, visible light waves, ultraviolet waves, x-rays and gamma rays. NASA also studies earth with some of these wavelengths and that has made archaeologists very happy.

For example, Dr. Compton Tucker, senior Earth scientist at NASA’s Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at Goddard Space Flight Center, used cutting-edge NASA technology, including magnetometers and ground-penetrating radar (GPR), to assist the government of Turkey in the location and excavation of ancient tombs. Tucker and his teams were racing against tomb robbers to find undisturbed tombs filled with archaeological treasures.

Thanks to NASA IV&V, educators in W.Va. also had the opportunity to use GPR to try to locate missing graves. With contributions from IV&V, WV Space Grant Consortium, Fairmont State University, Ohio Valley Archaeology and the Morgantown History Museum, W.Va. educators at a week-long 2011 summer camp explored how NASA uses wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum to study features of outer space and features here on Earth. One day was spent in an attempt to verify and validate stories of missing graves by doing a GPR survey to look for features at Kern’s Fort, a pre-Revolutionary War fort in Morgantown. GPR uses electromagnetic radiation in the microwave band to detect the reflected signals from subsurface structures. Graves typically reflect the waves differently than the surrounding soil.

Kern’s Fort was built in 1772 as a fortified cabin. Around 1774, a stockade wall was added. According to early records, it was one of the largest private forts in the area. There are sources from the late 1700’s and early 1800’s that refer to eleven burials at or near the fort. These include two children and six slaves who died of smallpox, two men killed in a skirmish with Native Americans (who were siding with the British), and Michael Kern’s himself, believed to be buried within one hundred yards of the fort. After the Revolutionary War, the stockade and various outbuildings inside it were taken down. The city of Morgantown grew up around the remaining cabin which was covered over with wooden lapboards in the 1800’s and still remains standing today on a small corner lot.

Under the direction of Dr. Jarrod Burk, a leading eastern US geophysical archaeologist, and the staff of IV&V’s Educator Resource Center, a GPR survey was performed around the fort itself and in some of the neighboring yards. Various anomalies were located and recorded. Interestingly, these anomalies appeared to start at a depth consistent with 1700’s artifacts recovered in a single 50 cm diameter shovel test pit excavated a few feet from the back wall of the fort. Last summer educators dug more test pits in neighboring yards and uncovered handmade clay marbles, post-Civil War pharmaceutical glass and an interesting unidentified ceramic object.  To determine if any of the anomalies are indeed the missing graves, an excavation would need to be conducted with the approval of the State Historical and Preservation Office. But it is now known, thanks to IV&V’s ERC, places to begin the excavations!

Pictured below: Just a few of the more than 100 artifacts recovered from a small shovel test pit.

Bone, Ceramic Artifacts

Pam Casto
Education Specialist
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program

Sun-Earth Day 2013

Pam Casto is an Education Specialist who works in IV&V’s Educator Resource Center (ERC). 

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) created Sun-Earth Day in 2000 to present to people around the world background knowledge about the Sun, latest happenings on the Sun itself, and how the Sun interacts with life here on Earth. This year’s Sun-Earth Day will be observed on Friday, March 23, 2013.

According to the Sun-Earth Day website, “Sun-Earth Day is comprised of a series of programs and events that occur throughout the year with a celebration on or near the Spring Equinox.” A different theme is chosen each year that highlights some aspect of what we are learning about Sun-Earth interactions. 

Latest SDO/AIA 193 A Image

This year’s theme is “Solar Max – Storm Warning.” Presentations throughout the year will explore the electromagnetic storms, flares, coronal mass ejections, and sunspot activities. Various NASA heliophysics missions such as the Solar Dynamic Observatory and the Van Allen Probes will share discoveries about our star and its influence on Earth.

Special events planned for Friday include a live webinar streamed from Wallops Flight Facility by NASA Edge.

Date: March 22, 2013
Time:1:00 – 2:30 PM EST
Location:Wallops Flight Facility

NASA EDGE: Sun Earth Day 2013





Live up date from the Moon


Alex Young, NASA GSFC

All things Sun: Solar Max and SDO footage


Dan Smith, JHU/APL

Auroras: Van Allen Probes (RBSP) mission update


Lou Mayo and Kelly Fast, NASA GSFC

Planetary effects from the Sun: MAVEN, Venus, Sounding Rockets Mission


Doug Rowland, NASA GSFC

VISIONS: sounding rocket/aurora


Dan Smith , JHU/APL and Joe Burt, NASA/GSFC

How do scientists and engineers work together to complete a mission?


Doug Voss, NASA Wallops

LADEE Mission and upcoming launch from Wallops


Sarah Daugherty, NASA Wallops

Flight Director at Wallops


Elaine Lewis and Troy Cline, NASA GSFC

Updates and announcements—MMS, Sun-Earth Day, Space Weather Action Center, Winner of Solar Max Anime Contest


Alex Young, Kelly Fast, Dan Smith and Doug Rowland

Q & A





Pam Casto
Education Specialist
NASA’s Independent Verification & Validation Program