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Rita Ainane: Living to the Fullest
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Whether interning in Goddard’s Propulsion branch or competing in horseback riding events, Rita Ainane does everything with passion.

Name: Rita Ainane
Age: 17
Hometown: Potomac, MD
Position: Summer Intern
Code: 597, Propulsion Branch
School: Winston Churchill High School
Projected Major: Mechanical Engineer
Mentor: Caitlin Eubank Bacha

What are you working on during your internship here? Why is your project important?

Currently my work is focused on compiling as many engineering-related resources as possible into a Wiki site I maintain for my branch. There is so much valuable research that might be useful to others in the field if it can be collected from the closets and office desks where it is sitting right now. Anything from Excel calculators to fluid schematic diagrams are good material. I spend a lot of time interacting with scientists and engineers to procure information that would be appropriate for this internet database.

My project has vast implications for productivity for years to come. Engineers will be able to find everything they need in one place instead of having to spend time searching for a specific article or research discovery.

Photo of Rita Ainane› Larger image
Photo of Rita Ainane. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Becky Strauss
In addition to my main work with the Wiki, I also help in the clean room and propulsion lab by testing hardware for the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission, a satellite that will attempt to study magnetic reconnection in the magnetospheres of Earth and the sun. I have had the chance to test heaters for the tanks, apply aluminum coating to parts of the tanks to help better distribute the heat, and aid in water-hammer testing. When the engineers from JAXA were visiting to work on the Global Participation Measurement (GPM), I was able to observe as they tested the valves attached to the GPM tank. It was really exciting! One thing is for sure: putting on the clean room suit never gets old!

How did your first impressions differ from your expectations of what working at Goddard would be like?

I envisioned a strict working environment before coming here, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the atmosphere is very relaxed. No one even wears suits and ties! The campus is not just a workplace; it is a friendly community of people who are excited about their work.

What makes the Goddard intern program so great?

I really appreciate how the interns are not given menial work to do. Many other intern programs that I’ve looked into treat their interns as free help, so I never expected that I would have the chance to act in such an impactful role. The fact that I was able to participate in research activities as a high school student is incredible.

Rita Ainane competing in a horseback jumping event.› Larger image
Rita Ainane at an equestrian event. Credit: Siham Ainane

What are your plans for the future?

Working here has definitely solidified my desire to pursue mechanical engineering. I hope to go to college to earn a degree in that field and work in a COOP position here at the same time. Eventually I would love to work full-time for NASA.

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

One of the biggest lessons that I have learned since starting at Goddard is that it is bad to be shy in this type of environment. I used to be much shyer before I came here and saw that all the scientists and engineers are eager to talk with me about their projects. Now I enjoy approaching people in the hallways because I know that they are excited to spread the word about their work.

Do you have any interesting hobbies?

One of my favorite things to do is compete in Equestrian Eventing. This sport is comprised of a combination of dressage riding, show jumping, and cross country riding. I love the adrenalin rush that I get when I clear a log in cross-country, or when I finally get the perfect time in a show jumping competition. Some friends and I began the first ever competitive Equestrian team at my school because of our passion for the sport and I was fortunate enough to be voted as varsity captain this past year. Besides riding, I enjoy ballet, scuba diving, Pilates, and playing the piano, guitar, and violin.

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I am Moroccan by lineage and I have a lot of family in Morocco, so I would love to visit there again in the future. I would also enjoy returning to Thailand because the culture there is just incredible! Finally, I hope I can visit places that I have never been before, such as South America or certain parts of Europe and Asia.

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