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Joie Chang: Beauty Makes the Center Go ‘Round
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With an eye for design, Joie rescues old websites from the virtual attic.

Name: Joie Chang
Age: 16
Hometown: Germantown, MD
Position: Summer Intern
Code: 606.3, Information Science and Technology Research
School: Richard Montgomery High School
Mentor: Karen Smale

What kind of work do you do here and what is the best thing about your internship?

This summer, most of my work involves “re-skinning” old project websites that have outdated formats. First, I go through a list of the Goddard web pages and prioritize them according to how many views they get and if the project is current. Then, if I decide that the website is worth refurbishing, I try to obtain permission from the sponsor to let me to go in and update the design to make information more readily available to those who might need it. I have also been working on a few smaller projects like collecting patterns for a template that would be accessible to anyone interested in visiting a Goddard website.

The best thing about my internship is the knowledge that my work is having real impact. It is a lot different from doing homework, where sometimes it seems like I am only doing a job to get a grade. Here I know that my work will directly affect how Goddard is able to function.

Photo of Joie Chang› Larger image
Photo of Joie Chang. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Becky Strauss

What inspired you to apply for this internship?

The fact that it had the word “NASA” in front of it! I was always the kid who would go to the gift shop and buy those little glow-in-the-dark stars to recreate galaxies on my ceiling. I like to learn whenever I can. That led me to search for an internship that would keep me active during the summer. When I saw a NASA internship opportunity, I couldn’t pass it up!

How does the work you do connect to the overall mission of Goddard?

By improving the visual aspects of older Goddard websites, I believe that I am making information more accessible to scientists and researchers. People must have this existing knowledge to build upon in order to learn more. It also helps to create public awareness of the different projects going on here because people are encouraged to explore our missions when they see a well-designed website.

Joie taking her first hang gliding lesson at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina› Larger image
Joie taking her first hang gliding lesson at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Credit: J. Chang

What school classes were the most helpful to you in the work that you are doing with website coding?

Surprisingly, the middle school computer science classes that I took at my magnet school for science and engineering have been the most helpful and applicable. This is where I learned the majority of my HTML and CSS coding. Also, my art classes were important because I learned about the aesthetics of web design.

What is the most important lesson you have learned and how did you learn it?

The most important lesson I have learned here so far is that people do not usually have their lives all planned out, and that’s okay. At the engineering panel for high school interns we got to hear from several

young, professional engineers about how they entered the path they are on and what type of work they do now. Most of the engineers had not started out by pursuing the exact career that they ended up in. I am encouraged that there seems to be a place for everyone at Goddard.

Do you have any surprising hobbies or interests?

Recently I went through an intensive, week-long training course in hang gliding at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Our group took two lessons every day in order to earn a hang gliding license by the end of the week. Hang gliding is a lot of fun! I think it is interesting how the sport utilizes so many physics principles such as lift, drag, and momentum.

If you could talk with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

I would want to talk with Stephen Sondheim, the composer and lyricist who worked on musicals such as West Side Story, Into the Woods, and A Little Night Music. I really admire his creativity and I would want to ask him how he got his inspiration.

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.