EDWARDS, Calif. - Julianna Plumb of Redlands made a huge commitment for the summer. She chose to spend eight weeks away from family and friends in exchange for immersion into the aerospace engineering field as an intern at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base.
Plumb is a senior at Redlands High School, ranking fifth in her class academically. She cites a love of math as reason for applying for NASA's Interdisciplinary National Science Project Incorporating Research and Education Experience, or INSPIRE. It is a multi-tiered program for students in grades 9-12 or in their freshman year of college. INSPIRE is designed to provide grade-appropriate NASA-related resources and experiences to encourage and reinforce students' aspirations to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education and careers.
Plumb's paternal grandfather, Walt Plumb, was an engineer for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which became NASA. His background has led to a curiosity in the younger Plumb about the profession. She applied for INSPIRE because she wanted to learn what an engineer does.
Plumb has been tasked by her NASA mentors with developing a template for writing a flight test plan. This template would give project personnel an outline to follow when developing a new aeronautical engineering study. A flight test plan includes the objectives of the project, type of aircraft, schedule of activities, and safety hazards.
As an understudy to operations engineers, she is observing their work on a project that seeks alternatives for pilots with limited cockpit visibility. The experiment hopes to determine if a pilot can safely fly with a camera and video monitor substituting for actual sight outside of the aircraft.
In addition to her scholastic excellence, Plumb is on her school's badminton and golf teams. She is a member of the Republicans club and vice president of the Christian club. She also plays the clarinet in the school's wind ensemble.
The INSPIRE project requires participants to work a 40-hour workweek. In exchange, they receive a stipend and, for students like Plumb who live more than 50 miles from the NASA center, lodging and meals.
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