EDWARDS, Calif. – William Scott, a 2008 graduate of San Diego's Clairemont High School, exchanged what could have been a relaxing summer vacation for the challenge of fitting into the workforce at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base.
Scott read a children's book about space when he was in kindergarten. He suggests that was the beginning of his curiosity about space. Thirteen years later this curiosity led Scott to apply 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.
Scott has worked on several diverse challenges during his eight-week internship. The first provided technical and administrative support to engineers on NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA. The SOFIA 747SP aircraft has a 2.5-meter diameter German-built telescope installed in its rear fuselage and early astronomy flights are expected to begin in 2009.
Scott is also aiding in the production of a video summary of Dryden's 2008 summer intern education programs. Additionally, Scott is updating and revising a number of NASA information sheets on aircraft and projects.
"I have always dreamed of becoming a NASA mission specialist astronaut and I feel that NASA INSPIRE is taking me one step closer to this dream," said Scott. With an interest in both microbiology and international law, Scott heads to the University of California – Berkeley in the fall.
Scott and the other INSPIRE participants enjoyed several field trips, beginning with a tour of Edwards Air Force Base. The group visited NASA's Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex northeast of Barstow in the Mojave Desert, and later explored the NASA Ames Research Center, near San Jose, Calif.
The INSPIRE project requires participants to work a 40-hour workweek. In exchange, they receive a stipend and the opportunity to work with NASA engineers and cutting edge technology. Students like Scott who live more than 50 miles from the NASA center also receive funding for lodging and meals.
For additional information about the INSPIRE project, visit:
For information about NASA Dryden Flight Research Center and its research projects, visit:
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