Ohio State University engineering student Rory Kennedy is interning at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California. (NASA Photo / Tom Tschida) EDWARDS, Calif. - At five years of age, Ohio State University engineering student Rory Kennedy visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. When Kennedy returned to the museum in December 2009, he looked at the aircraft with both a maturity that comes with age and a curiosity about those artifacts that came from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Just prior to his museum visit last December, Kennedy accepted an internship at NASA Dryden. He marveled at the research that went into NASA's F-104, X-15, M2F3 and D-558-2 on display at the museum and knew that he would be interning at a very special place.
As a child, Kennedy knew about NASA's astronauts, but did not know that NASA employed engineers in a number of disciplines. He excelled at and enjoyed mathematics and science in school and that led to a mechanical engineering major at Ohio State. At the university, Kennedy applied for an Undergraduate Student Research Program internship and was accepted for the spring semester.
Kennedy checks the air hose fittings on a quartz-lamp heater for leaks in Dryden's Flight Loads Laboratory. (NASA Photo / Tom Tschida) Kennedy is interning in Dryden's Flight Loads Laboratory with the Advanced Structures and Measurements Group. He is working on a study with the group's technicians to better understand how the energy from a high-temperature quartz lamp can be used to simulate the very high temperatures encountered by an aircraft during hypersonic flight. The lamp will simulate the extreme temperatures caused by aerodynamic heating of the aircraft structure. The goal is to prove the airworthiness of a hypersonic aircraft before it is flown.
"NASA is high tech," said Kennedy. "I want to work on futuristic projects and at Dryden where people work on things that can change the future."
Following the Lancaster, Ohio, native's June 2012 graduation, Kennedy would like to earn an advanced degree and then return to NASA employment, possibly at Dryden. He has enjoyed the stimulating work in Dryden's Flight Loads Lab and has grown accustomed to the desert environment.
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