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Kennedy's Summer Interns INSPIRE - 2009
Mausam ChokshiMausam Chokshi
University of Florida
Major: Microbiology
Expected Graduation: Spring 2013
Project: ODIN Vulnerabilities
Directorate: Information Technology and Communications Services [IT]

My summer internship is with the Information Technology End User Services Office, (IT-E) here at NASA. I cannot share the details about my main project because it deals with IT security. My project is hopefully going to be the solution to one of the main problems that IT security deals with: vulnerabilities.

ODIN is the contractor that regulates and updates all of the seats (desktops) here at Kennedy Space Center, so in other words, all the computers have common programs regulated by ODIN. Some ODIN seat owners decide to install non-ODIN software onto their computers, and because they do not update them regularly or perform security checks, they are at higher risk for obtaining these vulnerabilities.

To solve this problem, I have to research the databases and controls that are affected by these vulnerabilities and try to mitigate them. I have collected a lot of data from my research to help me develop my plan for the ODIN seat users who install these databases. IT security is working with me to arrange a new plan to help make sure ODIN seat owners know they are responsible for all the additional software that they install on their desktops.

Overall, the project has made significant progress and we hope to have the majority of the project finished before I leave.


Kavita ChaplaKavita Chapla
Duke University
Major: Undecided
Expected Graduation: Spring 2013
Project: Virus Inactivation of Fomites Using Zinc
Directorate: Applied Technology [KT]

I am interning with Dr. Nadia Silvestry-Rodriguez at Kennedy Space Center's Space Life Sciences Lab this summer. My project is a literature review of the following topic: virus inactivation of fomites using zinc. A fomite is any inanimate object or substance capable of carrying and transferring infectious organisms, and represents one of the principle ways that viruses spread from one individual to another.

Due to this issue's relevance, many researchers have conducted studies regarding virus disinfection. However, few test the antiviral capabilities of zinc ions and compounds. Through my literature review, I am exploring the effectiveness of zinc as a viral disinfectant. To achieve my goals, I search for articles pertaining to the research topic online and request the full articles from the Kennedy Library. I then read each and extract relevant information (i.e., virus, zinc, concentration, percent inactivation, fomite and other substances used), organizing my findings into a chart. Overall, I have discovered that zinc compounds effectively inactivate a variety of viruses in vitro, suggesting the feasibility of zinc as a viral disinfectant for surfaces.


Christopher LeChristopher Le
University of Florida
Major: Chemical Engineering
Expected Graduation: Spring 2013
Project: Designing Lunar Regolith Excavation Competition
Directorate: Applied Technology [KT]

The main project assigned to me for the summer of 2009 involves designing a robotics competition, entitled Lunar Regolith Excavation Competition, which will take place next May. The purpose of this assignment is to introduce design methods and the process for the development of projects.

This project involves several steps incorporating several aspects of Kennedy Space Center capabilities. The first step of this project is to investigate possible locations to set up the competition. One of the possible locations is the camp area at the Astronaut Hall of Fame. To secure this location, the point of contact must be contacted first. After receiving confirmation, the available area for the competition must be determined to ensure enough space is available and that there are enough accommodations for both participants and viewers. Since the Astronaut Hall of Fame has enough available space and accommodations, this location has been tentatively selected for the future competition.

Several assets were consulted throughout this project. The Astronaut Hall of Fame, the Space Life Sciences Lab, and the graphics design group were consulted as part of Kennedy assets. The company, 80/20 Inc., is an external contact. There is a possibility that the machine shop at Kennedy will need to be consulted to help construct the arena. The engineering process for producing a project is exemplified through this project, from idea and design to consulting, and ultimately testing and production.


Cassandra LilesCassandra Liles
Georgia Tech
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Expected Graduation: Spring 2013
Project: Lunar Regolith Excavation Competition/Scarab Mock
Directorate: Applied Technology [KT]

The Lunar Regolith Excavation Competition is a new competition that needs graphics, logos, rules, as well as an arena. Although this is the first year of the competition, the competition is modeled after an existing competition, the Centennial Lunar Regolith Excavation Challenge. This competition, however, is aimed at college students. This makes the challenge identifying key aspects of the original competition and modeling them to fit into an easier task, and creating exciting advertisement that helps encourage participation. By using a youth focus group, young insight, as well as guiding advice from experts in the field, hopefully an arena can be designed and built, rules can be molded and created to fit, and alluring graphics can be printed to bring about a successful first year of the Lunar Regolith Excavation Competition.

The first task is to identify the resources available to use, mainly space and funding. Then start a rudimentary design of an arena. The plan is to use 80/20 Inc. to build a rough skeleton of the arena, and then line it with painted and decorated plywood to make an attractive arena. The arena must then be filled with GRC-3 lunar stimulant and compacted. The building, however, is the secondary task. First, a clear design of where to place obstacles, how to compact the sand, and how to make the arena sturdy and highly portable is needed. Then, there is the task of graphic design. It is important to use already iconic images to create something captivating yet symbolic of the goal. This is best accomplished by working with a team of graphic artists and pooling ideas to come up with a permanent logo.

Data at this point is fairly limited. The current size of the arena is estimated to be about 4 meters by 7.5 meters and 1-meter deep. The sand collector bin is going to be modeled to emulate the actual lunar receptacle. Due to the quantity of simulant, a forklift must be used to transport it. The graphic component of the project has yet to be started.


ConstanceConstance "Julia" Nething
Olympia High School
Expected Graduation: Spring 2010
Project: Lunar Regolith Excavation Student Competition
Directorate: Applied Technology [KT]

The purpose of this project is to create a competition for college-level students that will foster involvement in STEM fields, excitement for NASA, and lunar technological development. This competition will involve robots that excavate simulant lunar regolith so that students will become more involved with NASA. It also will enable NASA to integrate these students' designs into future work. Interns involved in this project will help design the rules and the arena (based on another competition, the Centennial Challenge), create publicity tools (logos, lapel pins, patches, posters, banners, etc.) and advertise the event using the Internet (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.).

Issues to consider when designing the competition include portability, durability, safety and cost. To work through these obstacles, the interns involved will brainstorm the possibilities and use resources, such as the Internet, to determine the realities of the possible designs. Interns also will meet with their mentor and other adults working on the project to ask them questions and get an understanding of the specific needs of this competition. A safety concern is that simulant lunar regolith is an irritant, so everyone involved with this project will have to wear face masks whenever they are working with the simulant. Also, power tools will be used in constructing the arena, so interns will not be able to assist in this part of the project due to safety concerns.

So far, the project has taught interns about the moon, lunar regolith, the future reality of living in space, and how to use directions to brainstorm and design.


Peter WalesPeter Wales
University of South Florida
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Expected Graduation: Spring 2013
Project: Degassing of Insulation Systems
Directorate: Applied Technology [KT]

The Cryogenics Test Laboratory at Kennedy Space Center often desires to test high-performance multilayered insulation for spacecraft. Whenever testing multilayered insulation systems for NASA, it is necessary to test in a vacuum similar to the strength of the vacuum of space. During the preparation of every test, it is standard procedure to pump down to 1 Torr, backfill the system with nitrogen gas to 100 Torr, and then repeat the process to clear out the particles, such as water, which are hard to remove from the vacuum and insulation in that vacuum.

I will be using a roughing pump to obtain these pressures, which will be verified by a 1 Torr and a 100 Torr Baratrons. There has never been a standard procedure beyond educated guesses of how many times to repeat this process before proceeding with the actual test. By gathering pressure and time durations and then analyzing this data it will provide a concrete basis to standardizing pump down cycles in reference to the amount of insulation for preparation of vacuum testing.


Gail SmithGail Smith
Calhoun High School
Expected Graduation: Spring 2010
Project: Preliminary Command and Control for the Ares V First Stage Engines
Directorate: Constellation Project [LX]

The preliminary design phase of any new launch vehicle includes necessary modeling of many different aspects of the vehicle's proposed characteristics. My project(s) will assist NASA in modeling the Ares I upper stage engine, called J-2X, and developing the graphical user interfaces for monitoring the key telemetry points during prelaunch tests, processing and countdown.

This engine is a liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen engine. J-2X is a gas generator cycle engine that lights 1.5 seconds after the upper stage separates from the first stage. The thrust is 294,000 pounds and its burn time is 465 seconds.

My objectives are to:
  • Develop/improve J-2X representations with the ProE Cad/CAM tool set
  • Use information derived from the ProE models, Interface Control Documentation (ICD), and the Instrumentation Program Command List (IPCL) to create two-dimensional models with launch control graphical user interfaces (GUIs) using Iris.
  • As the J-2X has not flown yet, representative data sets will be built to test the GUIs. The results of this effort will be Pro-E models of the J-2X that the NASA team can utilize in their analysis and GUIs that receive streaming data for NASA to use during J-2X testing.


Alexander Diaz-RiveraAlexander Diaz-Rivera
University of Central Florida
Major: Electrical Engineering
Expected Graduation: Spring 2013
Project: Information Security
Directorate: Engineering [NE]

There are multiple labs located throughout Kennedy Space Center that house varying levels of sensitive information. It is vital that this information becomes classified in order to provide it with the necessary amount of protection.

Following the mandate set by the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) created guidelines for securing sensitive but unclassified information in federal institutions. These guidelines affect how information is transferred and secured in NASA, particularly information that is transferred between computers. My mentor's job is to make sure that these conditions are met throughout Kennedy's various lab facilities. However, keeping track of every lab in Kennedy can be overwhelming. My job is to make it easier for my mentor to find information on each lab.

It is my job to put all of the information given to me into an accessible database. Throughout this internship, I learned about the management of classified and unclassified information at the national institution level. I also learned more about Microsoft Access and its various functions.


Gabriella DiCarloGabriella DiCarlo
Vanderbilt University
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Expected Graduation: Spring 2013
Project: Surface Quality Monitor Evaluation
Directorate: Engineering [NE]

I am currently involved in a project that uses optically stimulated electron emission to test for the cleanliness of metal surfaces. I am qualifying the Surface Quality Monitor 200 (SQM200) made by Photo Emission Tech Inc. for use in quantifying the cleanliness of HFE 7100-3M, the cleaning solution used by Wiltech of Florida Corporation Inc. for component refurbishment.

HFE 7100-3M is vaporized off the surface of a nickel or brass disc, leaving behind a small amount of residue. The SQM200 uses UV radiation to excite the electrons on the surface of the nickel or brass disc, and then measures the electrons that escape the surface as a current. The residue left behind when HFE is vaporized attenuates these electrons and therefore causes a measurable reduction in the current. The more contaminated the HFE, the lower the current. The less contaminated the HFE, the higher the current.

This project seeks to establish ideal testing conditions and create a standard of comparison. Recent labs have shown a mathematical correlation between the peak current reading of a clean disc when compared to the peak current reading of the same disc once it has been contaminated. The level of contamination of a sample can therefore be mathematically calculated when these two readings are compared. This new method of testing the cleanliness of HFE will save Wiltech hours of work each day and increase the lab's efficiency and productivity.


CatherineCatherine "Cati" Gandolfi
Cocoa High School
Expected Graduation: Spring 2010
Project: Surface Quality Monitor (SQM) Qualification
Directorate: Engineering [NE]

During the eight weeks working at NASA, I was working in the Materials Science Division. The division provides science-engineering services to NASA and contractors at Kennedy Space Center, including those working for the Space Shuttle, International Space Station, Launch Services and Constellation programs.

Jennie Ward, one of the members of the Materials and Processing Branch, was my mentor for the eight-week program. Ward is responsible for providing engineering support to both design/development and operations activities at Kennedy.

By working with the exceptional team of engineers, I learned how to successfully test metal for contamination by using a specialized system called the Surface Quality Monitor 200 (SQM200).

In order to properly understand the techniques and/or procedures, one must be familiar with the equipment, specifically the SQM200, manufactured by Photo Emission Tech Inc. There are two specialized units: a control unit and a sensor stand with vertical height adjustment. The sensor stand with vertical height adjustment allows the technician to measure the electrons emitted from the surface of metallic samples exposed to ultraviolet radiation, which is otherwise known as the OSEE (Optically Stimulated Electron Emission) as a current.

Labs used by Wiltech Of Florida Corporation Inc. at Kennedy use HFE in processing and cleaning components from the launch pad, shuttles and satellites. The current method for analysis of HFE contamination levels are gravimetric analysis. This process takes approximately 45 minutes and must be done several times a day to ensure the quality of the HFE. The SQM200 is qualified and can do the same analysis in approximately 20 minutes. Use of the SQM200 for measuring the quality of HFE will ultimately save Wiltech time and money in component refurbishment.


Beau MunizBeau Muniz
University of Florida
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Expected Graduation: Spring 2013
Project: PORT II
Directorate: Engineering [NE]

The main project I've been working on is taking CAD (Computer Aided Design) files from Solid Works and converting those parts to workable Pro-Engineer files. We are modeling a mock-up Orion capsule that will be used for the second PORT (Post-landing Orion Recovery Test). The existing CAD file is from PORT I and is a computer model of the mock-up capsule currently behind the Prototype Lab where I work.

The purpose of this conversion is to allow NASA mechanical engineers, who mainly use Pro-Engineer, to design the PORT II capsule using the existing PORT I capsule and model. Using mapkeys, we attempt to convert the files without having to remodel each part, which will save time and allows us to properly model imported parts. Unfortunately, a good number of parts are not convertible, so they must be remolded in the proper format and assembled at the subassembly stage.

I, as well as the other interns and co-ops, developed an Excel spreadsheet that will be used as a checkout, similar to the method used by the Windchill workstation organization system. This keeps us from overlapping each other's work and makes it so any piece that has been modeled can be used in another assembly. The organization system seems to be working thus far and after running it by our leads and managers, they seem to like the system we've set up.

I've started on two subassemblies and I have been learning Pro-Engineer part and assembly as I go. The work requires creative thinking when it comes to what method should be applied to each part and recognizing when an imported part needs to be remodeled. There are a lot of headaches and I've realized when working with the large assembly, believing something to be simple is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Often, there are problems that need to be addressed by the team, but working together usually helps fix a problem quickly.

Overall, the experience has given me a lot of teamwork and Pro-engineer experience that will help me as I go to school to become a mechanical engineer. I've learned how to better manage large projects and the importance of working with others to achieve a common goal.


Yenny SuYenny Su
Columbia University
Major: Physics
Expected Graduation: Spring 2013
Project: LSC AutoCAD Drawings
Directorate: Engineering [NE]

I have two primary projects this summer and a few secondary tasks to complete.

First, the Launch Control Systems is approaching the deadline for its 90 percent design review and therefore requires a series of console drawings converted from Microsoft Visio to AutoCAD Electrical; LCS is currently designing and configuring the firing room consoles for Constellation. Second, I have been assigned the task of familiarizing myself with the hardware and software of programmable logic controllers. At the end of the internship, I am to demonstrate my acquired knowledge by writing a short program or series of executions using RS Logix 5000 and using Ladder Logic.

Secondary tasks include helping to create a circuit board for use for redundancy capabilities in the Bus Power Unit for Ground Special Power. The LCS firing room console drawings require working knowledge of AutoCAD Electrical and an understanding of schematics and diagrams. I have been assigned to draw several network data interface diagrams in the standardized format. To prepare for this project, I underwent both an AutoCAD tutorial CD and an AutoCAD tutorial book. As I am not the only one assigned to help with these drawings, I must attend weekly meetings regarding the progress of the drawings. The second project requires independent research on my behalf. To prepare for this project, I have been given an Allen Bradley RS Trainer tutorial CD, which gives a very comprehensive overview of the Allen Bradley programmable logic controllers, encompassing both the hardware and software features of the programmable logic controllers.

Having been assigned a set of analog and discreet input/output controllers, I will be working in the Kennedy Ground Control Systems Laboratory and will learn how to network the programmable logic controllers.


Zack Miller IIIZack Miller III
Macon County High School
Expected Graduation: Spring 2010
Project: Project Recore, Computer Restoration and building for the Electronics Failure Analysis Lab (EFAL)
Directorate: Engineering [NE]/Applied Technology [KT] Merger

I went to various places around Kennedy Space Center inspecting locks to see if they needed to be updated. In the Electronics Failure Analysis Lab (EFAL), my job is to build computers for certain tasks in the lab, such as running microscopes or for photo documentation.

My assigned project is the merge of the Engineering Directorate (NE) with the Applied Technology (KT). The task is to try to create the best way to merge the two organizations. The merging of these two organizations will benefit both parties. NE will gain the use of more on-site labs to do research and KT will be able to have a management system. I will try to see what sections of each division match best and try to merge them together. My plan of action is to revise the different sections of each organization to understand the function of each. Then, I'll look at the layout of the KT organization and see where each section of KT will fit in. Finally, I'll layout and create a flowchart to illustrate the drafted merger plan and present it to my mentor for further revision as needed.


Murphy WonsickMurphy Wonsick
Dixie Hollins High School
Expected Graduation: Spring 2010
Project: Risk of the International Space Station COPVs
Directorate: Safety and Mission Assurance [SA]

My project this summer is to help determine the safety and reliability of Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels (COPVs). COPVs are currently being stored at the Space Station Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center. They have a possibility of stress rupture failure, making the risk of them unknown.

A rupture in one of these COPVs could cause catastrophic damage to personnel and/or flight hardware. My project specifically deals with COPVs comprised of IM-7W and T-1000 carbon fiber. There is limited data on these types, which brings into question their safety and reliability.


Kevin BaggettKevin Baggett
Calhoun High School
Expected Graduation: Spring 2010
Project: Ecological Research: Scrub Jay Populations and Habitat, Sea Turtle Nesting and Alligator Wrestling
Directorate: Center Operations [TA]

My project this summer was to participate in different forms of ongoing ecological research. I monitored the population of juvenile Scrub Jays, a rare bird species found on Merritt Island and the Kennedy Space Center, and surveyed the scrub vegetation and re-growth where these birds make their home.

Another area of study that I actively participated in was to estimate fish community populations using a Vemco Acoustic Transmitter. After the transmitter was cleaned, the information was downloaded.

Finally, I helped in studying sea turtle populations by surveying successful nesting sites. I also wrestled alligators that were capturing sea turtles and their eggs to monitor toxin levels found within the local environment, and to determine why within this area the male population exceeds the female.


Justin BirbalJustin Birbal
University of Central Florida
Major: Industrial Engineering
Expected Graduation: Spring 2014
Project: Business System Support Analysis
Directorate: Center Operations [TA]

During the INSPIRE 2009 summer internship, I was assigned to the Business Systems Management Branch of the Center Operations Directorate. In this directorate, we audit other directorates on their performance and ability to complete tasks in an orderly and correct manner.

That leads me to introduce the project I was assigned this year, which was to update, verify and prepare reports in a database that I created last year. This database was created as a tool to gather all internal and external audit findings and keep them in one central location that was searchable and readily accessible. Also, it had to have the ability to show trends, generate repots and display data graphically. To accomplish the task at hand this year, I plan on first getting familiar with the database again. After I believe that I understand the database, I plan on updating the data and creating more trend reports that would show us the performance at the Kennedy Space Center.

To update the data in the database, I would first need to gather all the information in various file formats and try to organize them for easier entry into the database.


Aida Yoguely Cortés-PeñaAida Yoguely Cortés-Peña
CROEM High School
Intended Major: Aerospace Engineering
Expected Graduation: Spring 2010
Project: Business Systems Branch Abilities, Capabilities, and Services Web Page
Directorate: Center Operations [TA]

During the INSPIRE summer internship, I am acting as the Business Systems Management Branch capability owner for the Kennedy Web-based Initiative for Communicating Capabilities (KWICC) system, having the responsibility of creating a portal that describes the services provided by the branch.

This project will help others achieve a clear view of the functions of the personnel in this office and the services that the branch provides to NASA and the Kennedy Space Center. So far, I have learned how to create Web pages in the KWICC system, and have created the style of how the information will be presented on the index page. Then, I interviewed subject matter experts and prepared a summary of the responsibilities they have and the services they provide to the center.

After comparing the information gathered with the literature reviewed in Business World, KSC Internal Web Portal and other Web sites and documents, I identified discrepancies, outdated information and multiple sites where the same information is provided. I documented the results of the interviews and literature search in a report. I sent this report to the office for a review in case any additional changes needed to be made.

Currently, I am integrating the data found in multiple places in two forms: a brief description and a detailed description. I was asked by my mentor to contain the latter in a Kennedy Technical Instruction (KTI) and place a link to this document in the Web sites reviewed to maintain the integrity of the information. This KTI would serve as one central location where it could be easily accessed by the office for future modifications. And last, I would transfer the information from the report into the KWICC Web page and provide the updated information to the administrators of the other Web sites.


Ayan NasirAyan Nasir
Olympia High School
Expected Graduation: Spring 2010
Project: Evaluating the Possibility of Launching CubeSats via Launch Services Program With Regards to Mitigating Orbital Debris
Launch Services Program [VA]

My internship project involved learning about CubeSats (standardized nanosatellites) and finding a practical solution to reduce orbital debris from the satellites that remain in the heavily populated low Earth orbit. By using the Debris Assessment Software (DAS) and Satellite Tool Kit (STK), data was collected to determine which technologies were effective in reducing the orbital lifetime of satellites. Through subsequent research of existing devices in the market as well as brainstorming future devices, several solutions have been realized as practical and effective and will play an important role in the future of CubeSats as customers of NASA's Launch Services Program (LSP).

Alongside this primary project, I’ve also taken part in several other projects. The other major project is working for LSP radiological contingency plans for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) by drafting a timeline for the Radiological Control Center (RADCC) on the day of launch, finding out what telemetry is necessary for LSP to have throughout the launch, and creating a display for those in Hangar AE on the day of launch. I’ve also been charged in understanding the planetary protection aspect of the mission, which means understanding the methods and importance of ensuring no contaminants go to Mars or come back to Earth, and working on several subsystems of the CubeSat.


Lauren CardamoneLauren Cardamone
Bayside High School
Expected Graduation: Spring 2010
Project: Altitude Chamber
Directorate: Engineering [NE]/Boeing

The altitude chamber is located in the Operations and Checkout (O&C) Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The chamber is designed to create a near space vacuum environment, which is used to leak check space station pressurized flight modules. The two chambers were built in 1964 to support NASA’s Apollo and Spacelab programs. After a period of disuse, the altitude chamber was reactivated and refurbished in 1999. However, only the east chamber is currently active. The approximate 50,437 cubic feet of volume of the chamber is able to sustain a vacuum level of 0.1 Torr. The NASA contract with The Boeing Company will terminate at the end of September and NASA requests the east chamber be fully operational.

Statement of Purpose: Perform activation/validation and provide NASA with an operational altitude chamber able to support future spaceflight tests.

Outline of Procedures: Engineer with follow OMI (Operational Maintenance Instructions) to test the altitude chamber. If a problem arises a PR (Problem Report) will be developed providing a solution. The OMI will provide instructions to:
  • Configure the hardware for operations.
  • Initiate the PLC (programmable logic controller) system and Babylon 5 Network
  • Pump down of the chamber via an automated logic controller system
  • Shut down both pump trains
  • Restart both pump trains
  • Repressurize the vacuum chamber
  • Power down and secure all PLC functions and shutdown the Babylon 5 Network
Data Collection: Work steps in the OMI will be verified by engineering personnel. Notes will be made by engineer in the log book, and a PR will provide details encompassing any fault.

Conclusion: Verify that the system is operationally ready to support future spaceflight tests.


Julie-Anna HulingJulie-Anna Huling
Home School
Expected Graduation: Spring 2010
Project: 60 Hz AC Power Single Line Diagram
Directorate: Engineering [NE]/Boeing

During my time at NASA, I was put to work at the Space Station Processing Facility, under Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. Our department was responsible for supporting the systems of several of the buildings at Kennedy Space Center. Mostly all of the work that was given to me during my time at NASA was in preparation for a shift of this responsibility to another contractor.

My mentor, Kim Shepherd, assigned single line diagrams (SLDs) as my project for the eight weeks that I would be at NASA. I was to ensure consistency of the data between the SLDs and the Circuit Configuration Data Systems (CCDS). In short, I compared the two, and marked any mistakes or typos on the CCDS. The engineer who needed this done was then to fix any problems, and draw up accurate SLDs from that data. Though it was tedious work, it was necessary, and a good learning experience.

I also was involved in helping with turnover folders. I filled out system description sheets, checklist reviews and hardware content checklists. This was all in an attempt to help some of the employees complete the turnover folders within a given time frame.

My mentor was gracious enough to take me to see many different systems at Kennedy, as well as allow me to shadow other employees as they worked. I had the chance to meet many different people and learn about their jobs. These opportunities were incredible. Two months before this program started, I had only dreamed of working side by side with NASA engineers while I was still in high school.


Karishma PatelKarishma Patel
Calhoun High School
Expected Graduation: Spring 2010
Project: Protocol for Enumeration of Viable Bacteria
Directorate: Engineering [NE]/DYNAMAC [DYN]

The purpose of my project is to develop a protocol for enumeration of living and dead bacteria from different environments. My project will use the LIVE/DEAD BacLight from Molecular Probes Inc. in Eugene, Ore., to test the viability of bacteria by using a dual staining technique. Because bacteria are so diverse, it is difficult for any one method to accurately count them or describe what the bacteria are doing. My project will provide a swifter form of counting bacteria.

So far, I have done six LIVE/DEAD assays. It required tedious work in the lab, which took a few hours. I made well plates that contained bacteria cells and stains. I then placed the plates in a microplate reader, which determined the amount of cells per well in the plate. The microplate reader counts the cells by counting fluorescent lighting given off by the stained cells. The stains turn the cells red or green (determined by the viability of the cells). This way, one can count the number of viable cells. My results from these assays have varied. My very first assay proved that E. coli was a good responder to the LIVE/DEAD stains. I have not evaluated the data from my latest assays yet, so no conclusions can be made.

During my time at NASA, I have learned many things. I also gained lab experience that I can take back to my high school IB biology class and future college courses. I feel that I am ahead of my fellow classmates when it comes to biology. This experience will definitely help me when I take the IB biology exam. I never thought I could gain so much helpful and necessary information during my summer at NASA. I now understand what it is like to work in a business and scientific environment. My experiences here will help me when I am applying for future jobs or internships.