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Volume 46 | Issue 7 | August 27, 2004

People and Places

photo: student photos

Pictured with program coordinators Roberto Garza, far left, and Bridgett Bushrod, far right, are, from left, NASA SHARP students Diane Santos, Steven W. Frehn, Karen C. Mendez, Brian R. Anacleto, Lucia L. Miranda, Camryn J. Prevost, Catlin M. Level, Janeya T. Griffin, Christopher A. Dickens and Annie M. Hunter.
NASA Photo by Tom Tschida

Students Learn the Ropes at Dryden 

Call them Dryden's farm team, the on-deck circle, the stars' understudies - they're the teens and young adults in the student programs conducted here and at NASA centers around the country every year. Designed to keep a steady stream of potential employees in the pipeline, the programs offer a chance for high school and university students from all over the U.S. to spend time - usually, in the summer - working at NASA and laying the groundwork for future employment.

Many of Dryden's current engineers and scientists got their start in the various programs.

They credit the summer internships with everything from providing some much-needed pocket money to inspiring lifetime career goals. Among current Dryden employees who first came to the Center as students are Center Director Kevin Petersen; Bob Meyer, associate director for programs; Marta Bohn-Meyer, chief engineer; and Carol Reukauf, assistant director for management systems.

Bridgett Bushrod, Katrina Emery and Roberto Garza are Dryden student program coordinators.

Ten students earned a slot in this year's NASA Summer High School Apprenticeship Research Program. NASA SHARP offers a select group of students the opportunity to participate in an intensive science and engineering apprenticeship program. The program aims to stimulate broad career interests in those career fields among a culturally diverse group of students and to foster mentoring relationships with active researchers.

Students selected must demonstrate an aptitude for and an interest in science, mathematics, and engineering careers. The eight-week program offers them an opportunity to learn and earn - each receives a small stipend. After orientation, students are assigned to work with a Dryden mentor in a specific technical area. During their apprenticeship, students carry out assignments, prepare written reports, and make oral presentations.

Under the supervision of Dryden staff, students participate in a variety of enrichment activities such as college visitation, career exploration and counseling, and tours to observe where and how technology impacts the community.

2004 NASA SHARP students are Brian R. Anacleto and Christopher A. Dickens, Palmdale High School; Steven W. Frehn, Highland High School; Diane Santos and Camryn J. Prevost, Antelope Valley High School; Janeya T. Griffin, Annie M. Hunter and Karen C. Mendez, Littlerock High School; Lucia L. Miranda, Paraclete High School; and Catlin M. Level, Lancaster High School.

The Dryden Cooperative Education (Co-op) program is designed to provide work experience for undergraduate and graduate college students pursuing degrees in fields related to Dryden research. Most co-ops major in aeronautical/aerospace, electrical and mechanical engineering fields, but participants also include students working with technicians and administrative personnel.

photo: USRP students

USRP students working at Dryden this summer were, from left, Xiaojie (Jenny) Hu, Lawrence McAfee, Zoe Nemirow-Nagler, Hoyt Chang, Thomas Cowan, Natalie Costanzo, Brandon Bohling and Gerson Borja.
NASA Photo by Tom Tschida

Co-ops are included in various research programs that are structured to apply basic principles and theories of the students' major field of study and to provide an opportunity to determine the type of work for which they are best suited. Students enter a program of alternating school and work assignments involving increasing degrees of difficulty.

Working under the supervision of engineers on projects such as systems design, flight test experiments, computer studies and simulations, the students' work is evaluated by supervisors and mentors after each work assignment. By the time the last work period is over, students are working with a minimum of supervision on complex research problems that may result in joint authorship of a research paper.

This year's Co-op students and the schools they currently attend are Norma Campos and Matthew Tran, Wichita State University; Ivan Carrillo, New Mexico State University; Jason Clark and Ellen Klingbeil, Iowa State University; Sara DaVia, Christopher Miller and Carly Toder, Purdue University; Noe Leland Esparza, Stanford University; Tanya Cruz-Garza and Oscar Murillo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Claudia Herrera, University of Texas at El Paso; Joseph Iacobucci, Georgia Institute of Technology; Juniper Jairala, University of Colorado at Boulder; Kathryn Kelchner, California Polytechnic; Louis Mazziotta, East Stroudsburg University (Pennsylvania); and Jan (Frank) Yang, University of Florida

In addition, Esparza, Cruz-Garza and Murillo received fellowships from the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science, or GEM, program, to supplement financial support provided by the Dryden Co-op program.

Two programs are offered at Dryden for summer student research, the Undergraduate Student Research Program and Graduate Student Researchers Program.

USRP offers undergraduate students across the U.S. research experiences at NASA centers during two sessions in the summer and fall. The purpose of the NASA-USRP is threefold:

  • To attract undergraduate students from the widest array of backgrounds who are fully representative of America's racial, ethnic and cultural diversity, and to provide them with hands-on, challenging research experiences that stimulate continued interest in the fields/disciplines aligned with NASA's research and development mission.

  • To build a national program bridge from existing NASA K-12 education program activities to NASA higher education program options that encourages and facilitates interest in future professional opportunities with NASA and its partner organizations. Such opportunities might include NASA career employment, temporary assignment, undergraduate and graduate co-op appointment, Space Grant scholarships and fellowships or contractor positions.

  • To extend and strengthen NASA's commitment to educational excellence and university research and to highlight the critical need to increase America's undergraduate and graduate science, engineering, mathematics and technology skill base.

At the completion of each session, students submit a paper on their NASA-USRP research experience and may also be asked to discuss their work in public forums and/or participate in NASA-sponsored colloquia, workshops and technology demonstrations. Each student receives a small stipend. The Virginia Space Grant Consortium coordinates the NASA USRP for NASA at the national level.

photo: student photos

From left are Eduardo Jeff, Samira Sanchez, Carla Hernandez and Jonathon (Brett) Swanson. All are STEP program participants except Sanchez, who is a NASA Scholar.
NASA Photo by Tom Tschida

USRP students currently at Dryden are:

Gerson Borja, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (New York); Brandon Bohling, Oregon Institute of Technology; Hoyt Chang and Lawrence McAfee, University of Michigan; Natalie Costanzo, Loyola Marymount University; Thomas Cowan, University of Florida; Xiaojie (Jenny) Hu, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Zoe Nemirow-Nagler, Western Washington University.

Under a grant from NASA, Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga., sponsors the Women in Science and Engineering Scholars program, which is offered at Dryden. The WISE initiative strives to increase the number of minority and female students in science and engineering studies through a summer internship program that gives students an opportunity to work with professional staff at NASA centers. Selected students work alongside NASA employees, gaining valuable exposure to career options and experience in research training.

Scholars accepted into the program must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or above. They must also follow a prescribed curriculum and maintain an interest in a career with NASA. Students are required to participate in academic support and enrichment activities. First-time scholars attend the Summer Science and Engineering Program at Spelman College.