Student Features

Bryan James
portrait bryan james Bryan James. Image Credit: NASA.
  1. Which NASA program did you participate in prior to the Ambassadors Program and what was your major project for that program?

    Prior to the NASA Student Ambassador's Program, I spent three years participating in the Motivating Undergraduates in Science and Technology (MUST) program. Students in this program were called MUST Scholars. In my first year in the program I worked at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. on a project called "Building the Continuous Sub-Kelvin Magnetic Refrigerator Without Heat Switches" in 2007. In summer 2008 I worked at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland on "Designing the Mechanical Vibration Shaker Table for Integrated Environmental Testing." In summer 2009 I worked on "Design, Drafting, and Analysis of Mass Simulators for a Structural Test Article." I will speak on the most recent project. I designed, drafted and performed vibration analysis on seven mass simulators for a project called CONNECT in 2009.

  2. What are you majoring in and what college are you attending?

    I majored in mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. I graduated in August 2010.

  3. What are your career goals? Are they with NASA?

    One of my career goals has been achieved. I was hired to work at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. My main goal is to become a NASA astronaut and/or flight controller.

  4. Why did you choose to be a NASA Ambassador?

    I chose to be a student ambassador because I loved the internship experiences with NASA. They are so enhancing to becoming a professional in general as well as a scientist or engineer. I wanted to help other kids come to NASA and experience the same.

  5. What are your future goals in the Ambassador Program and what are you looking forward to in the program?

    I am looking forward to promoting NASA to other communities and encouraging kids to get involved in STEM fields. I also look forward to conversing with other scholars, especially now that I have graduated.

  6. How has interning and being an ambassador at NASA helped you?

    Interning has helped me develop into the young professional that I am today. Because of the internships I know how to achieve in the workplace, successfully complete tough and fast-paced projects, and work in teams with other engineers and scientists. It also helped me learn so much about the space program that I did not know before.

  7. What events are you looking forward to in the Ambassador Program or what events have you attended that sparked your interest?

    I am looking forward to seeing another launch for sure. I did get to attend the launch of STS-129 and it was absolutely amazing. It was that event that sealed the deal for me wanting to spend my entire professional career with NASA. I also attended a teleconference on stars and the Hubble Space Telescope. I look forward to more info sessions at NASA Headquarters as well.

  8. What advice would you give to aspiring students who want to participate in the many opportunities NASA offers?

    I would tell all people looking into NASA opportunities to first of all apply no matter what. I would also tell them that succeeding at NASA requires passion and confidence. There are so many people at NASA willing to help interns learn and succeed, so any work given to interns can be accomplished. But passion and confidence are the keys to completing the challenging work. I would also tell them that they would be busy, because we work on real work as interns, not fake work.

  9. What have you experienced at NASA that stood out to you the most?

    Meeting NASA Administrator Charles Bolden personally and attending the launch last year stand out the most. It also stands out how involved I was with my branch. They really trusted me to get things done.

  10. How are you going to motivate students to pursue a career related to STEM? What motivated you?

    I am going to motivate young kids in STEM by sharing with them my story. I was motivated by two parents always telling me I could do anything I could if I tried. I was motivated by God first and foremost. And I was motivated by a desire to achieve. I struggled in high school, so I know if I can do it, most others can. I just had a good support group and the passion to succeed.

–Reported and edited by Tori Woods, SGT Inc.
NASA's Glenn Research Center