Student's Final Day is Just the Beginning
By: Denise Lineberry

Shane Seaman is reaching for the stars.

His experiences at NASA Langley started with his internship last summer in DEVELOP as a lead on the Virginia Climate Change Team. He also saw a space shuttle launch.

Seaman was invited to Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch of Atlantis, STS-117, as a result of his enrollment at Virginia Tech and his affiliation with NASA. A Tech flag was on-board STS-117 to show respect for those who were affected by the shootings on April 16, 2007.

His experience at the launch went much further than a simple viewing.

Shane Seaman.

USRP student Shane Seaman stands next to the experimental parachute project for the Army that he has been working on this summer in Building 1200. Photo Credit: NASA/Sean Smith.

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"I met with (Langley) head of education Roger Hathaway, who encouraged me to apply to the LARSS and USRP Programs," Seaman said.

"I met with many distinguished NASA employees, including astronauts Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Leland Melvin," he said. "The conversations I had with them gave me strong encouragement and an undeniable sense that my dream to become an astronaut is truly attainable."

"The level of excitement at KSC was so overwhelming that I knew I had to become a part of it," Seaman added.

This summer he returned to Langley as a part of the NASA Undergraduate Student Research Program (USRP).

August 8 was Seaman's final day on center. He is returning to Virginia Tech as a senior, to complete his bachelor's of science degree in physics and applied mathematics. He plans to continue his education into graduate school in pursuit of a PhD, possibly in applied physics.

"After I complete my education, I would like to join NASA as a full-time researcher and eventually apply for selection into NASA's astronauts corps," Seaman said.

This summer, Seaman worked in the Advanced Sensing and Optical Measurement Branch with his mentors, Tom Jones and Benny Lunsford. They spent the summer developing a 173-pound payload for the Army’s Natick Soldier Center. This payload will be used to develop an experimental technique to support a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model validation of parachute design concepts.

This fall, the payload will be drop tested from a helicopter at an elevation of approximately 1000 feet.

"In addition to helping assemble the payload, a large part of my project was creating a LabVIEW program to allow the onboard instrumentation package to interface with the computer and record the acquired data," Seaman said.

His experiences this summer, combined with those of the past, have served as great tools for Seaman's future.

"My favorite part of this summer has been, not only getting the chance to use what I've learned in my physics courses, but also learning things that can't be taught in a classroom," he said. "I really have to thank my mentors for that."

Seaman will continue working toward his goal, while keeping in mind the advice given to him by Melvin at the launch of STS-117: "The most important thing he told me was that I should not take part in things solely because they 'look good' to the astronaut selection panel. Instead, I should pursue a discipline in which I have passion."

"I never would have imagined that astronauts could be so down-to-Earth," Seaman said.

NASA Langley Research Center
Managing Editor: Jim Hodges
Executive Editor and Responsible NASA Official: H. Keith Henry
Editor and Curator: Denise Lineberry