USRP Intern Geoff Glidden
Geoff Glidden stands behind a lectern

Student Ambassador Geoff Glidden presents an overview of his NASA experience during the STS-127 Pre-Launch Education Forum. Image Credit: NASA

In which NASA student opportunity project did you participate, and how did you get involved in it?

I am currently participating as a NASA Student Ambassador along with my NASA Undergraduate Student Research Project summer internship at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. This is my third NASA internship. I was a NASA Marshall Space Grant Research intern at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., during the summer of 2008, and in the fall I participated in my first tour as a NASA USRP intern at JSC. In January of this year, I also was fortunate enough to fly aboard the "Weightless Wonder" microgravity aircraft by participating in the NASA Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Project.

I was initially introduced to my first NASA internship by conducting some internet research upon hearing a recommendation from one of my professors at the University of Missouri. From there, I was able to determine how to apply online or through e-mail for the programs that interested me.

Explain the research you conducted through your NASA involvement and why this topic is important.

I have been very lucky and excited that all of the research I have been involved in has been directly related to the new Constellation Program. My initial internship at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center dealt with working directly towards the design verification of the Ullage Settling Motor, which is a key, small solid-motor subsystem on the upper stage of the Ares I launch vehicle. Following that, my first internship at NASA's Johnson Space Center was focused on increasing the fidelity of the in-house, Orion Crew Module full-scale mock-up so that it would be maintained to allow for accurate human evaluations of the current flight design. My current internship is very much focused on Orion as well as additional Lunar Surface System designs for permanent human habitation on the moon. I am taking a systems engineering approach to explore a new software program that may allow design engineers to more easily and efficiently make modifications in a specific aspect of the design and determine how the changes will affect the overall product. This research may not only help the current Orion and Lunar Surface System design projects, but may also improve the methods and processes for any future projects that could benefit greatly from a more uniform system of design.

What has been the most exciting part of your research?

Geoff Glidden, Anthony Zippay and Maria Liberto with a physics experiment

A USRP team prepares for a reduced-gravity flight with their physics experiment. Image Credit: NASA

The most exciting part of my research has been the opportunity to be directly involved with the future of NASA's mission for human spaceflight. The Constellation Program is focused on allowing humans to return to the moon and go forward to Mars and beyond. I have also been very fortunate to be able to participate in some very exciting NASA events, including the NASA 50th Anniversary Celebration and the International Space Station 10th Anniversary. And of course I would have to say experiencing reduced gravity on board the "Weightless Wonder" was easily the most amazing thing I have ever done.

What is your educational background, and what are your future educational plans?

I am currently a senior mechanical and aerospace engineering student attending the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo. I graduated from Rockwood Summit High School in Fenton, Mo., in 2005. In the near future, I plan to go on to graduate school and pursue an M.S. and perhaps even a Ph.D. in an aerospace engineering-related field of study.

What inspired you to choose the education/career field you did?

Ever since I was very young I have always been incredibly fascinated with human exploration of space. As I grew older and realized that the study of mathematics and sciences were great passions of mine, it seemed very clear to me that mechanical and aerospace engineering would be the perfect direction for me. As long as I can remember, I have always known that NASA represented the ideal place for my future career, and my recent experiences have only served to strengthen that belief.

What do you think will be the most important things you’ll take away from your involvement with NASA?

My involvement with NASA continues to allow me to grow in my fascination of human space exploration and to strengthen my belief that this is where I can truly contribute my greatest efforts. In addition, it has made me realize that one can only learn so much in the classroom; the greatest pursuit of knowledge truly comes from working towards a goal that you feel passionate about.

How do you think your NASA involvement will affect your future?

My NASA involvement has motivated me even more to further dedicate my efforts to pursuing the future of human spaceflight and exploration. It has also allowed me to become familiar with the type of work that goes on at NASA. I now have a much better understanding of how things get accomplished in my field so it will give me a much better head start for when I begin a career of my own.

What are your future career plans?

I am very excited about the opportunity of perhaps obtaining a future career with NASA. I can say for sure that I am very interested in a career that will deal directly with human spaceflight. I hope to be able to stay involved with future lunar and Martian missions and hopefully even begin to plan towards our next destination after Mars. As I get more involved, I plan to eventually apply to be an astronaut.

Astronaut Scott Kelly and Geoff Glidden

Geoff Glidden met astronaut Scott Kelly during the STS-127 Pre-Launch Education Forum. Image Credit: NASA

What advice would you have for other students who are interested in becoming involved with, or working for, NASA?

There are numerous educational and work-related opportunities that are available at all of the NASA centers. I would definitely recommend checking out the information that is available on NASA's Web site and also on the new NASA Student Ambassadors Virtual Community. Also, I would advise students never to be afraid to ask questions and strongly encourage them to apply to any and all programs that may be of interest.

How might you expect to contribute as a participant as a NASA Student Ambassador?

I have been very fortunate to have been able to participate in several NASA educational programs, and I am very excited to be able to share my experiences with my peers and those interested in participating themselves. The new NASA Student Ambassadors Virtual Community will make it very easy for me to be able to connect and network with other students from all across the nation. The resources available should allow us to close the gap between educational institutions and future opportunities that are present at all of the NASA centers.

Related Resources:
>  NASA Student Ambassadors
>  Undergraduate Student Research Project
>  NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
>  NASA's Johnson Space Center
>  NASA's Constellation Program
>  NASA Education