Episode 2: Evan Anzalone

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Episode 2: Evan Anzalone
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This episode is a part of the NASA
Student Opportunities podcast series.

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Show Notes

Special Guest: Evan Anzalone, NASA Academy intern, and Dr. Dennis Gallagher, NASA research scientist

(0:00) Intro

(0:23) Deadline for submitting NASA Space Settlement Contest  → entries is March 31, 2007.

(1:12) Interview with Evan Anzalone and Dr. Dennis Gallagher. Georgia Tech graduate student Evan Anzalone and his NASA mentor, Dr. Dennis Gallagher, discuss Evan's experience as a NASA Academy intern and how other students can become involved with NASA learning opportunities.
       NASA Academy  →
       Space Grant
       Article about Evan Anzalone's NASA internship

(10:18) End

Send your comments or questions to: educationpodcast@nasa.gov

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Deana Nunley: This is NASA Student Opportunities -- a podcast connecting high school and college students with learning opportunities inside America's space agency.

Episode 2. Feb. 21, 2007. I'm Deana Nunley.

Glad you could join us today.

Would you like to design a space colony? Here's your chance to study physics, mathematics, space science, environmental science and many other disciplines as part of the NASA Space Settlement Contest. It's for 11- to-18-year-old students from anywhere in the world. Individuals or teams may enter. Grades six through nine and 10 through 12 are judged separately, except for the grand prize. Submissions must be received by March 31, 2007.

For contest rules, tips, prize information and all the details about the NASA Space Settlement Contest, go to www.nasa.gov/podcast, click on the NASA Student Opportunities podcast, and check out the show notes for this week's episode.


Evan Anzalone graduated from Louisiana State University with a bachelor's degree in physics and is working on his master's degree in aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech. He’s one of 15 undergraduate and graduate students who spent last summer at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, as part of the NASA Academy project.

NASA Academy is co-sponsored by participating NASA centers and the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program and offers students hands-on experience with a NASA principal investigator on a research project.

As the summer internship was winding down, I had a conversation with Evan Anzalone and his mentor, Dr. Dennis Gallagher -- a research scientist at the Marshall Center.

Evan, tell us about your experience with NASA Academy.

Evan Anzalone: My experience has been a very busy summer. We've been working on my project during all the days. We've even been having lots of lectures at night. We've been going on tours all over Marshall. We visited other centers: Kennedy, Johnson.

It's been an amazing experience to work with the students that I've met and also the mentors that we've been able to meet with, as well as some of the administrators of NASA that we've been able to sit down and talk with and hear their views and how they got to where they are. And their stories that they have to tell and just their experience that they've had through the years. Especially from people like Rex Geveden, who we've had the experience to talk with. The ability to do such great research, and experience as well as see all the centers and all the other research that's going on that I had no idea about. It's very interesting and very cool.

Deana: What was the highlight for you?

Evan: The highlight of the Academy experience has definitely been to see the shuttle launch from Kennedy this past July. We were there on the 4th of July on our third launch attempt to see it. We were able to get on base, instead of having to be on a bridge a couple of miles away. We had a great view of it. To feel the sound and to feel the compression waves hit you is amazing and also to be able to be there and see all the huge facilities that you never get a chance to go into and also being able to meet all the people that we've met and talked with on such an informal basis. And sitting around a table and talking with Deputy Administrator of NASA is quite a nice lunch.

Deana: How do you expect your experience with NASA to affect your graduate work and perhaps ultimately your career?

Evan: Gaining experience working with a vacuum chamber and systems and tools that I'm working with in the lab has definitely garnered me some experience towards what I hope to work with in the future. And also some of the programs that I'm using and the analysis that I'm doing helps with that. Also some of the group work and seeing all these other individuals that I'm working with and seeing they're always as good as me, and we're all pretty smart. It helps you to be able to see your competitors in the future, who you'll be working with and the kind of personalities they have and how you have to mesh with them in group work.

Deana: What are your impressions from what you've seen as far as working with other people?

Evan: Well, I've found the NASA community, if you need help with anything, you can just go around and everybody is willing to help you out. Everybody has their own niche or specialty in which they know everything about. Like the vacuum guy, the electronics guy, they all know their specialty. They'll all help you out, they're all willing to help you out.

Deana: Tell us about the research you've been involved with.

Evan: The research that I'm involved with is the first stages of testing calibration of a mass spectrometer instrument, which will look for water and other chemicals in the lunar soil. The work that I'm doing is building a lab setup inside a vacuum chamber to actually be able to take the device and calibrate it and see how well it works and to characterize its work and operation.

Deana: Dr. Gallagher, what's the significance of the research?

Dr. Dennis Gallagher: A lot of people are interested in how you survive on the moon for an extended period of time, how you get the resources that you need there. In the case of going to the moon, water is a big deal. If you can find water on the moon, if you can manage dust over a long period of time, then you have the basis for surviving, and more economically than you could in any other way. And a lot of people, not just us, but a lot of people are looking at trying to find water on the moon. The neutron detection has been done to detect hydrogen on the moon, but detecting water molecules itself would be a big plus. What we're looking to do is to build an instrument, or be capable of competing to fly an instrument that could measure molecular water on the moon, either in surface samples or in sub-surface samples.

Deana: Has Evan's activity contributed to your research?

Dr. Dennis Gallagher: Absolutely. Evan came in at a very early stage. I had hoped that we'd be further along, and he could be doing more hands-on stuff than he's been able to do. But he's come in right at the ground floor when we had to figure out what we were going to do. He's been part of a lot of things that we've tried that didn't work, and he's helped design what we have and what we're going to be doing. He'll be part of, if we're really lucky, he'll be part of the first stages of the calibration of the calibration facility.

Deana: Evan, in closing, would you care to offer any advice for students considering NASA Academy?

Evan: I would definitely recommend for students to apply for this program and get involved. It's been a great opportunity to see the things I've seen, talk to the people I've talked with, do the research that I've done. I would suggest to students that are interested in the program to get involved with NASA research at their universities. NASA has contacts all over the universities and Space Grants. They do plenty of research. And to get involved, that's your best way I think. Just do that and work with the mentors at the university.

Dr. Gallagher: I could emphasize what Evan said about experience. Anyone interested in working with NASA or working on the space program, whether at a university or otherwise, they should look for experiences. There are opportunities at many universities to be involved. The kind of experience that Evan had before coming to the program was a big help, I think, in getting into the program. You should be open to things as a student, opportunities, experiences. If you can get into a place like NASA, you really ought to go around and talk to people. There's nothing scientists like to do more than talk about their research. So do it!

Evan: I want to add something to what he was saying just now. With the program, having gone through a NASA-sponsored Space Grant Program through my university, a high-altitude balloon program really got me going on the path that I'm going on. If it hadn't been for that, I would have been going into grad school for other research. So that definitely helped me in pushing me towards this kind of work that I'm doing. It was a big help and great experience to actually get into that and do a lot of the work that I will continue doing, like design reports and design reviews, all this kind of fun things you deal with as an engineer at that level.

Dr. Gallagher: I think it's been pretty obvious that Evan prefers to be in the lab with the vacuum chamber and operating the chamber and doing the programming for it, which he does almost instantly. So whether it's programming and control for a laboratory system that you'd use for data acquisition and testing, whether it's for modeling, more academic-type work, whether it's design work, engineering, there are all kinds of things that go on within NASA. You shouldn’t categorize it as only propulsion or only astronauts. There's a lot of things, a lot of technologies have to go into the space program. So there's room for an awful lot of interests.

Evan: That's another thing that I noticed, too, while being here. We've been able to see such a wide breadth of work that is being done. It's all extremely interesting to know that you might come in with one research background and end up doing something totally different but still extremely exciting and still groundbreaking and pushing forward. And it all has to come together for these projects to work. Once you're here, it's a great opportunity. Once you've actually got in, once you've made that first step, a lot more doors open up as you talk to people. I'm going to be able to hopefully come back. The guy I'm working with, he's probably doing a co-op in the fall. The doors open wide once you're here. It's a great opportunity to get your first step in.

Deana: Continuing NASA's tradition of investing in the nation's education programs, NASA Academy is open to students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or to citizens of participating countries. Students must be college juniors or seniors or in their first year of graduate work and have a high academic standing and a demonstrated interest in the space program.

You'll find links to more information about NASA Academy and the Space Grant in this week's show notes. Go to www.nasa.gov/podcast and click on the NASA Student Opportunities podcast.


We'd like to hear from you. If you have any questions or comments about NASA learning opportunities, send an e-mail to: educationpodcast@nasa.gov

Thanks for joining us today.

NASA Student Opportunities is a podcast production of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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