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Inspiring Young Minds Instills Excitement in Paul Dees
July 13, 2011
 
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INTERN EDITION


Enriching the minds of kids and inspiring them to reach for goals that they may never have dreamt is what Paul hopes to do this summer while at the Visitor’s Center.


Name: Paul Dees
Age: 21
Hometown:Ulysses, KS
Position: Intern (Informal Education)
School: Wichita State University
Major: Aerospace Engineering

Describe how you do your job, where you do it?


I work in the Visitor’s Center here at Goddard. I do a lot and my job has me doing something different every day. I do data entry and analysis from surveys, design and build a pneumatic rocket launcher, and help with tours around campus.

What is a typical day on the job like for you?


I come in and like I said before, I do different things every day. I recently have been looking for materials for a rocket launcher we are going to build. I look around and see if we have any materials already here that I could make curriculum from and present to the student tours that come to the Visitor’s Center.

Do you use any cool tools, or instruments or specialized pieces of equipment to do your job?


The rocket launch was one of the coolest things I have done here so far. I also saw where they sew the outer layers of space suits and other blankets for satellites. The infrared camera that we use here at the Visitor’s Center in presentation is a really great tool for teaching the kids how the James Webb Space Telescope works. Not only does it teach them, it is a fun way to get the kids interested in space.

How did you find out about the opportunity here at Goddard?


Photo of Paul DeesPhoto of Paul Dees. Credit: G. Batterden
I actually applied for a coop program through my school and did not get accepted, but was picked up by my mentor. She found me through the system and offered me the opportunity here at the Visitor’s Center and I am really glad I got to come here and participate in the intern program this summer.

Who is the most interesting, inspiring, or amazing person you have met or worked with here at Goddard?


I have met a great number of interesting people here at Goddard and they all have made an impression on me. All of the scientists and engineers I have met are very passionate about what they do and are happy to share about their projects. Their knowledge and inclination towards science is clearly evident through their work and excitement about their projects.

How will this opportunity help you reach your future goals (job experience, college, career goals etc?)

I think being here is a great networking tool. Meeting all these people and being able to work in a great atmosphere has been a wonderful opportunity and I am grateful to be here. I learn new things here that are expanding my knowledge on space, which is especially helpful in my field of study.

What event/activity/project are you most excited about or have done at Goddard?


Photo of Paul Dees sailing
Paul Dees enjoying the sport of sailing in Maryland. Credit: P. Dees
The day of the rocket launch was really exciting and I am glad I got to be here for that. All the tours that I help with around Goddard show me new things and help me understand the stuff goes on here. Being able to work with the groups that come here, especially gives me the chance to broaden my horizons. Earlier this week I helped with a tour group of visually impaired students and just being able to see how they learn things was a great thing to be able to understand. They teach me as much as I teach them.

How do you feel a non-science internship fits into NASA?


I think that kids these days get most of their inspiration outside of the classroom so being able to come here and see all the possibilities of what they can do is really important. The informal education that they get really affects their perception on life and what they want to do. I was inspired by my grandfather. He never formally taught me anything, but through informally educating me I learned a great deal. It’s imperative that we show them they can do anything they want.

After working at Goddard, have you discovered that some of your perceptions were wrong or untrue?


I did not come here with any perceptions about what it would be like, but I am excited about what I see here. Coming from Kansas, I wasn’t sure if I’d like the east coast, but I actually enjoy it a great deal. The people who work here at Goddard all have a similar attitude in that, they all want to get things done and are excited about their work.

After working at Goddard, have you discovered that some of your perceptions were wrong or untrue?


I did not come here with any perceptions about what it would be like, but I am excited about what I see here. Coming from Kansas, I wasn’t sure if I’d like the east coast, but I actually enjoy it a great deal. The people who work here at Goddard all have a similar attitude in that, they all want to get things done and are excited about their work.

What are your hobbies outside of the workplace? (How do you fill free time?)


I really enjoy doing activities outside. Sailing and camping are hobbies of mine and I recently started to enjoy bike riding. I play golf and Ultimate Frisbee from time to time also. Every now and then I like to do astronomy. Being an aerospace engineer keeps me interested in the sky. In Kansas the skies are really clear so it’s fun to lie out and look up at the stars.

Is there something surprising about you that you think people would not generally know?


Most people wouldn’t know that I am a paid musician. I play and sing at churches in my area. I really enjoy singing, but I think most people wouldn’t guess that an engineer enjoys singing as much as I do.

If you could meet and talk to anybody, alive or dead, who would it be what’s the first thing you’d ask them?


I would talk to a man named Wernher Von Braun. He was a German Aerospace Engineer and Rocket Engineer who was commissioned by the Nazi Party, but worked to further science in the turmoil of WWII. I would ask him why he chose to work for them knowing he faced a double sword, be killed for not doing what they asked or making something that would potentially kill many people. He is seen as one of the greatest rocket engineers in history. He made all of his decisions based on furthering science and the impact it will have in generations to come.

Do you have a favorite book, magazine, movie, or TV show?


I enjoy all things Sci-Fi. The most recent book I read called Dune was really interesting, I enjoyed the story that the author told. And of course since I enjoy Sci-Fi, I love all of the Star Wars movies.

Is there some place in the world that you want to visit or someplace you have been and want to go back?


My family and I used to go camping in Colorado and I loved that. We haven’t been in a while and I’d really like to do it again. Mountain climbing in Nepal would also be something I think I’d really enjoy doing. Mount Everest would be tough, but something that I could say I have tried. This is random, but I have also always heard Maine is a great place to visit so I’d like to go there as well. Somewhere that has a lot of physical outside beauty always strikes my interest.

Give me the names of three famous people you admire and tell me what you admire about them.


The first person would Wernher Von Braun. I think what he did was very commendable and that he was a great scientist who impressed a lot of people. His inventions and intelligence gave us a lot of things that we use and know today. Another person would be a man named Eugene Cernan. He was the last man who walked on the moon. He made a statement right before they left that has really stuck with me and it was “That America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus- Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.” I have really tried to live my life as he said. There are six American flags on the moon and that a lot of wars and battles have resulted from land. And I believe that when Cernan said this he was commenting on that all of mankind can have peace and hope through togetherness and in sharing what is out in space. The third person[s] would be my parents. I know they aren’t famous, but I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. They are great examples of how a strong work ethic can get you anywhere and life I am grateful that they were able to instill that value in me.

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Grace Batterden
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.