EDWARDS, Calif. – Bakersfield resident Emily Sayles had her fire lit about space travel when she was in the fifth grade. That summer, Sayles attended U.S. Space Camp, then based at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
"The experience sold me on the idea of human space travel and exploration," Sayles said.
Sayles has come far from the summer space camp she attended as an 11-year-old. She is completing a 10-week internship this summer at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base. The University of California – Irvine senior is participating in NASA's Motivating Undergraduates in Science and Technology, or MUST, program. The program, open to U.S. citizens pursuing undergraduate degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, offers a stipend for the summer research experience.
Under the mentorship of Dryden engineer Kurt Kloesel, Sayles is working on preliminary designs for a NASA ground-based launch assist program. This work is associated with the NASA Innovative Partnership Program's Seed Fund. Her tasks have consisted of verifying theoretical results gathered by trajectory and engine simulation software with experimental data. It is believed that ground-based launch assist will significantly cut costs for space travel.
Sayles was a valedictorian for the 2005 graduating class of Bakersfield High School. That year she was a member of the school's award-winning academic decathlon team. She was selected for California All-State Honor band each year of high school and recipient of the John Philip Sousa Band Award in 2005.
In June 2009, Sayles will earn a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering. Her ultimate goal is to become an astronaut, but would consider it an honor to contribute to the exploration of space in any capacity.
"I've always told people that working for NASA would be my dream job, and so far, my experiences at Dryden have served only to confirm that assertion," Sayles commented.
For additional information about the MUST program, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/postsecondary/programs/Motivating_Undergraduates_Science_Technology.html
For more information about NASA Dryden Flight Research Center and its research projects, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden
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