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Johnson highlights summer 2018 intern achievements

September 12, 2018

Each year, thousands of students across the country submit online applications, hoping that they will be considered for an internship at NASA. This summer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, 141 students landed on that list and received the opportunity to fit in as much work, professional development and networking as possible in 10 short weeks. In addition to having the opportunity to hear directly from speakers like astronauts Victor Glover and Dr. Kate Rubins, as well as former Flight Director Gene Kranz and Flight Director Ed Van Cise, the interns also participated in an International Space Station downlink with astronaut Ricky Arnold and a Town Hall with newly appointed NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. To celebrate their accomplishments, NASA Internships at Johnson hosted the Annual Summer Intern Award Ceremony.

Mentors, interns and other supporters of NASA educational efforts convened in the Teague Auditorium to enjoy a summative review of space exploration achievements and intern contributions to the advancement of human spaceflight. Keynote speaker and Deputy Director of the Office of STEM Engagement Rocky Lind led a TED-styled talk on the importance of being a NASA ambassador in advance of recognizing intern and mentor awardees for their work.

More than 40 nominations were received from mentors and interns detailing the impact of the work performed by interns through the mentorship of their NASA mentors. Fifteen mentors and interns were awarded for their exceptional impact to NASA’s missions.

The summer 2018 intern awards for Outstanding Achievement included: Tate Walker and Amanda Kilhenny (both in the Spacecraft Software Engineering Branch of the Software, Robotics and Simulation Division); Cole Gerber (Rapid Prototype Laboratory); Dillyn Mumme (Flight Planning and Procedures of the Operations Division); Alex Quinn (Battery Group of the Propulsion and Power Division); and Stephanie Zeller (Honorable Mention, Collaborative Innovation Office of Human Health and Performance). A group achievement award went to William Smith, Saul Pizano and Erman Cihan (Thermal Design Branch of the Structural Engineering Division).

Receiving the program’s highest and most prestigious Outstanding Intern award was University of Maryland student James Lawley, who interned under mentors Frank Delgado and Matthew Noyes in Spacecraft Software Engineering. Lawley contributed significantly to and expanded the core technology capabilities of the Hybrid Reality Lab (HRL), which combines elements of physical and virtual reality for a variety of astronaut training, engineering design and scientific/human performance applications.

Lawley conducted many outstanding demonstrations of both his work and the work of the HRL at Johnson for NASA stakeholders, VIPs and the general public. One of the demos led directly to the U.S. Air Force (USAF) contacting the HRL with an interest in collaborating. This was followed by Johnson visits by high-ranking USAF officers (including a three-star general) and the formation of a partnership that will prove very useful to NASA and the USAF.

Left to right: Outstanding Intern awardee James Lawley and mentor Matthew Noyes
From left, Outstanding Intern awardee James Lawley and mentor Matthew Noyes. Image Credit: NASA/James Blair

This summer, mentors who have made the greatest impact—or displayed the greatest leadership abilities—were also recognized, including: Dr. John Graf (Engineering Crew and Thermal Systems); Keith Tucker (Human Systems Engineering and Development); Douglas Wong (International Space Station Division of the Safety and Mission Assurance Directorate); and Cody Burkhart and Jeevan Perera (Engineering Advanced Exercise Development Lab).

Interns also heard from one of their own peers, Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit and Informatics intern Patrick Pischulti, who chaired a professional-development committee and illustrated how his internship opportunities at Johnson have impacted his academic pursuits and refueled his passion in engineering and leadership.

The NASA internship program enables students to continue the story and legacy of Johnson through their individual projects and contributions to their organizations. As part of a larger picture, the program prepares the STEM workforce with relevant experience.

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Do you have a project that could be advanced using today’s talent? NASA Internships is currently accepting spring, summer and fall projects as well! Students can apply to any and all 2019 sessions.

To learn more about how to acquire an intern for your project, please contact JSC Internship Coordinators Courtney Barringer or Holly Middaugh.

To learn more about internship opportunities here and across NASA, visit: https://ero.jsc.nasa.gov/pages.ashx/13/Internships

Annual Summer Intern Award Ceremony participants watch the ceremony.
Attendees listen in rapt attention to speakers at the Annual Summer Intern Award Ceremony. Image Credit: NASA/James Blair
Guest speaker Patrick Pischulti shares his personal story and encourages fellow interns to continue in their leadership. Image Credit: NASA/James Blair
Guest speaker Patrick Pischulti shares his personal story and encourages fellow interns to continue in their leadership. Image Credit: NASA/James Blair
Keynote speaker and Office of STEM Engagement Deputy Director Rocky Lind provides advice for continued personal and professional success. Image Credit: NASA
Keynote speaker and Office of STEM Engagement Deputy Director Rocky Lind provides advice for continued personal and professional success. Image Credit: NASA