Kentucky State University graduate student Luis Urbina performed calibration tasks for both pressure and temperature sensors as a research instrumentation engineering intern at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center during the summer. (Contributed photo) EDWARDS, Calif. – Kentucky State University student Luis Urbina, a graduate student in computer science, completed NASA's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, or EPSCoR, internship in August. The internship gave him hands-on and mentored engineering experience at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.
During the two-month internship that began in June, Urbina reviewed drawings and schematic diagrams for the Subsonic Research Aircraft Testbed project involving use of a Gulfstream III that is being instrumented and modified to accommodate a range of aeronautical flight research experiments.
"Dryden has given me hands-on experience in the execution and implementation process of a whole project," Urbina said. "This project gave me the chance to conduct research in the pressure sensors field for aircraft, work with hardware and software at the same time, and, as a computer science graduate student, evaluate diverse interfaces as an end user."
His mentor, NASA Dryden engineer Shedrick Bessent, assigned Urbina to take charge of the calibration task for both pressure and temperature sensors. As a research instrumentation engineer intern, Urbina joined a team of engineers that tested conventional as well as new flight instrumentation technology used on aircraft.
"Luis Urbina has many of the key elements of the ideal NASA engineer – one who is self-motivated, detail-oriented, dependable, adaptable, and is an absolute pleasure to work with," Bessent said. "In his short but significant term, we appreciated his discovery of many undocumented issues with our pressure sensors, thus increasing our knowledge, improving our procedures, and saving us valuable time."
Urbina was born in Peru and is a naturalized United States citizen. He has resided in Lexington, Ky., since 2006. His internship was funded through the NASA Kentucky Space Grant Consortium and the NASA EPSCoR internship program.
Urbina became interested in physics as a child, but limited opportunities in that field in Peru motivated him to come to the United States for expanded educational opportunities. He said watching Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong as the first human to step on the Moon inspired him to make working at NASA one day his ultimate goal. As a citizen of a developing country, he said, "It was not possible to pursue that dream."
His primary area of interest in engineering is technology efficiency, which is why he said he enjoyed his internship in NASA Dryden's Instrumentation Branch. He plans to pursue a career in artificial neural networking.
NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center is the agency's premier flight-research facility. Many of the center's aircraft are used for scientific and space technology research to advance both technology and science through flight.
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