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Gilbert Castillo, MUST Participant
Gilbert Castillo operates a piece of laboratory equipment

Gilbert Castillo researched lithium-ion batteries during his internship at NASA's Ames Research Center in California. Image Credit: Gilbert Castillo

In which NASA student opportunity project did you participate, and how did you get involved in it?

I am in the NASA MUST (Motivating Undergraduates in Science and Technology) program. This past summer I was placed in NASA Ames Research Center.

Explain the research you conducted through your NASA involvement and why this topic is important.

I worked in the Prognostic Center of Excellence. My research topic was lithium-ion battery prognostics. Prognostics is the field of science that tries to predict when a device will fail. This is very important, since the knowledge of when a device will fail can help technicians replace or service the device before it fails.

What has been the most exciting part of your research?

The most exciting part of the research is knowing that you are working for something big. A two-month internship is not enough to start and end a research project, but I definitely got to make a contribution to a research project that has been going on for months and it is still going on. The fact that I made a contribution to a project that will ultimately have great benefits to society is exciting.

What is your educational background, and what are your future educational plans?

I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla. I expect to graduate in May 2011.

What inspired you to choose the education/career field you did?

In high school, I was inspired by chemistry teacher Walter Bowman. He made me appreciate chemistry. I was also involved in the FIRST Robotics team in high school, which inspired me to become an engineer.

What do you think will be the most important things you'll take away from your involvement with NASA?

I got to interact with a group of amazing scientists. I got a taste of what doing research is like. I had the opportunity to experience firsthand what working for NASA is like, and let me tell you that the work environment is amazing.

How do you think your NASA involvement will affect your future?

My involvement with NASA has already affected my future. I have become part of the vision of NASA, and I see myself working for NASA in the near future. I would love to continue to be part of NASA's vision.

What are your future career plans?

As of right now, I am concentrating on graduating with my bachelor's degree in chemical engineering. After that, many things are possible.

What advice would you have for other students who are interested in becoming involved with, or working for, NASA?

Do well in math and science. Also, I strongly recommend joining a research lab in your university -- you don't need to be a graduate student to do research.

Related Resources:
›  NASA Motivating Undergraduates in Science and Technology
›  NASA's Ames Research Center
›  NASA Education
›  FIRST Robotics
›  NASA Student Programs

David Hitt/NASA Educational Technology Services