STUDENT OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN NASA
We have a lift off!
The 2018 Aeromechanics Interns Rocket
Rosemary Williams, Class of Summer 2018
The 2018 NASA Ames Aeromechanics intern group was the biggest, and greatest, one yet. With interns from 26 states taking on projects involving things like UAVs, VTOLS, wind tunnels, rotor designs, food redistribution, urban air mobility, landing ports, and Mars Helicopter Kits, each one was unique and carefully thought out so we could all have the most fulfilling internships as possible.
Anyone who has been to a Pride parade knows that the holy grail of Pride Parades rests right in the Bay Area itself, winding up Market Street straight to city hall. A dozen aeromechanics interns helped man a booth on Saturday, showing support and talking to the public about the Mars Helicopter. We took turns running the "Rotor of Fortune," which engaged everyone with very enthusiastic space science questions and came up with harder ones to ask each other (who was the first woman in space? First dog?). Everyone seemed thrilled that NASA was there and loved hearing about all our projects, especially the Mars Helicopter which is set to launch with the Mars 2020 mission attached to the belly of the new Curiosity rover.
The second day of SF Pride saw more than 50 NASA interns and employees marching along to Sci-Fi soundtracks (most notably, the Star Wars theme). Adorned with blow-up multi-colored aliens, flags, stickers, and a NASA Tesla we got to experience all the love and support from our fellow paraders and onlookers. I was lucky enough to wear the $10,000 replica astronaut suit and pretend, just for the day, that my dreams of being an astronaut had come true.
Cut to a week later, and the Vertical Flight Society Executive Director, Mike Hirschberg was kind enough to come and give us a presentation. He talked about how their innovative new designs may make VTOL systems more adaptable for urban settings, allowing for rapid transport in busy cities where commuting can sometimes take four or more hours. The slides on different rotor configurations caught my eye since my project is working with blade configurations on rotors to minimize sound and maximize thrust; an important consideration in urban air mobility.
We soon left the cool, breezy bay area and drove six hours south into the Mojave Desert in mid-July. The first stop dropped us off to The Spaceship Company/Virgin Galactic, and we knew we had arrived when a wall of heat slammed into us immediately after exiting the bus. The Spaceship Company is working on a type of space tourism, where the spaceship is taken up by their "White Knight" (the mothership) for about five minutes before re-entry. While we were not allowed to take photos, we learned a ton. For instance, the iris on the spaceship is none other than Stephen Hawking's (who was actually on the list of people who were going to fly in the spaceship!) while the iris on the White Knight belongs to Sir Richard Branson's mother (the founder of Virgin), Eve. We learned about the simulations pilots do to train, and how the spaceship disconnects from White Knight to achieve spaceflight. A few weeks ago, they successfully completed their first test and it went seamlessly. We were so lucky to have such wonderful tour guides and get to stand under the wings White Knight and next to the spaceship before she starts her fulltime job as a real-life space shuttle.
We were then shuttled to Edwards Air Force Base and Armstrong Flight Research Center. A few summers ago, some interns from Armstrong visited Ames and after touring the facility and going inside the largest wind tunnel in the world, promptly said their favorite part of Ames was the grass. After visiting the research center, I can't say that they were wrong either; there was no grass and very few trees. But their base, their people, and their tour definitely made you forget about the heat for just a little bit.
We toured their machine shop and saw different flight vehicles, sat in mission control with videos and data from SOFIA playing across the large screens up front, did pilot simulations that took off and landed at Edwards, and learned about their new aircraft wings bend instead of use flaps. It was such an awesome interactive experience.
One of the Aeromechanics Interns was also double majoring in dance and she put together an awesome dance for a music video. Choreographing based off the recent craze, "The Shiggy Challenge," Mirielle Fehler gave us time to leave our simulations, codes, and SolidWorks designs for a half hour or so every day and dance it out. It was beautifully filmed and edited by another one of our interns, Michael Swafford, and was finished just in time to play at the farewell gathering ceremony for the departing interns.
During the summer, Mackenzie Klima lead a group that made Mars Helicopter kits for elementary, middle, and high school students. Yeray Pabon designed a complete 1/3 scale model of the Mars Helicopter using Legos and Paul Devillier designed the Mars Helicopter high school kit that uses 3D printed parts and flies. Yeray also 3D printed scale models of the NASA urban air mobility (personal air taxis) reference models. We hope to have the kits available in next year, and honestly I'm pretty excited. All the pieces were printed and assembled in time for the final poster presentation and they all looked amazing. You could tell how much time and effort was put into each piece, and, unsurprisingly, the models are being sent to NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. for display.
The last week was stressful as we finished up our final reports and sad as we had to say goodbye to everyone. We got to learn about everyone's projects at the poster session, and share our RotCFD defeats and then their consequent successes. Last minute tests and edits were made until every last paper was turned in. I never believed I would find such a family at NASA; people to go to the coast with, camp with, hike with, prank with. Dasha Kyrychenko put it perfectly: "The interns and mentors alike are some of the most passionate people I've ever met [and] I know I'm in the right field because of it." Not only did we get to have the incredible opportunity of being interns at NASA but we got to make so many new connections and experience so many awesome events and opportunities together. Will McElreath ended a page long letter about his experience with this: "It taught me what it means to love where you work, what you work on, and who you work with. I found a new family at the Aeromechanics branch, a family that I only knew for ten weeks, but it is a family that I will always love and never forget."
The Aeromechanics Family just keeps growing every semester and I know that we can't wait to see where everyone ends up.
Hi! My name is Rosemary Williams and I am going into my second year in mechanical engineering at the Oregon State University Honors College. I am very interested in astrophysics, observational astronomy, and cosmology and hope to pursue those in graduate school. This internship has been invaluable in teaching me so much about what I want to do in the future and making connections with people who are studying exactly what I would like to work on in the future! If you have any questions about this internship opportunity or the application process feel free to contact: Rosie.
Fellowship opportunities for interested and highly motivated students include experimental projects conducted in the Ames 7- by 10-Foot Wind Tunnel, full-scale helicopter or tilt rotor tests in the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (the world's largest wind tunnel), and in flight with resident U.S. Army UH-60A Black Hawk helicopters. Analytical research projects include new vertical lift aircraft assessment and analysis (manned and unmanned), comprehensive analysis of current and new helicopter and tilt rotor aircraft, as well as CFD modeling of rotary wing systems and airfoil aerodynamics. Many of these projects include collaboration with the Department of Defense (U.S. Army, DARPA) and the U.S. helicopter industry.
Some of the student design and internship opportunity announcements are listed below. To learn more about student opportunities at NASA, interested applicants should apply through the NASA Internships and Fellowships.
NASA Internships and Fellowships
NASA Internships and Fellowships is a nation-wide system for the recruitment, application, selection and career development of undergraduate and graduate students primarily in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. Opportunities for students in other disciplines are available. The NASA Internships and Fellowships application is a year-round program and has a variety of time frames available.
Students have the ability to search and apply for all types of NASA internship, fellowship, scholarship opportunities in one system. A single internship or fellowship application places students in the applicant pool for consideration by mentors for all NASA internships or fellowships.
NASA Internships and Fellowships provides a flexible workforce solution for Sponsors while enabling students and faculty to contribute their specialized skills and grow their knowledge while at the same time gaining practical experience in their chosen field or career pathway.
For more information about this opportunity, visit: NASA Internships and Fellowships