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TI Researchers Host Los Gatos High School Job Shadow Day

On March 13, 2017, Dimitra Giannakopoulou hosted 15 students from Los Gatos High School as part of the high school’s Job Shadowing program. The purpose of the program is to give students the opportunity to shadow a business or non-profit organization in an area of potential career interest. Prior to technical demonstrations, students were welcomed by Robust Software Engineering (RSE) Area lead Guillaume Brat, who gave an overview of the work that we do in our division. Dr. Brat made sure to mention the strong presence of female employees at our center and to encourage the female students to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Maria Bualat offered an exciting tour of the Roverscape (even though our robot is on its way back from Chile). George Gorospe and Chris Teubert gave an interactive tour of the Systems Health, Analytics, Resilience, and Physics (SHARP) modeling Lab, discussed several projects, demonstrated software related to systems health monitoring that was developed in the lab, and they answered a ton of questions from the interested students. Adrian Agogino gave an engaging presentation of tensegrity structures and robots, which stimulated a lot of lively discussion. Diana Acosta discussed her experience as a NASA intern and her follow up work on providing precise and dynamically updated information to aircraft pilots to assist with flight, leading to the topic of humans vs. autonomy. Peter Mehlitz gave an interactive demonstration of his Runtime for Airspace Concept Evaluation (RACE) environment for simulations of the National Airspace System (NAS). Students were able to use a flight simulator connected to RACE and fly an aircraft within the NAS.

Jose Benavides gave tours of the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) Facility Lab and the Microgravity Test Facility, with the SPHERES robots being a great hit. The visit closed with Howard Cannon giving a presentation about the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission and talking more generally about space exploration, always a hot topic with high school students. Over lunch, several Robust Software Engineering (RSE) scientists popped into the lab and answered questions from the students. In general, our visitors were very eager to learn more about the technical background of our scientists and what brought us at NASA.

The visit relied completely on the volunteering of time and effort from all the above employees, and from Guy Power, who helped Dimitra Giannakopoulou with the logistics. However, the prospect of inspiring young people and making them enthusiastic about pursuing fulfilling careers in the future is very rewarding. We are already receiving feedback from the students about their appreciation of the visit and their interest in pursuing internships at Ames:

“I would like to say thanks again for spending the day with us. This will be a major highlight of my high school memories.”

“I would like to thank you again for the opportunity to come into NASA Ames and explore the site! I think the most exhilarating part of the tour was a simple confirmation that most of the internet information about NASA was actually true, along with finding the essential applications of the knowledge I have seen in textbooks into real life.”

“The most fascinating part of the tour was the wind tunnels; I guess I am more of an aerospace type of person. The textbook pictures in John D. Anderson's "Fundamentals of Aerodynamics" displays pictures in black and white, and the wind tunnels were infinitesimal relative to the ones on NASA Ames! I also found the structure of the tensegrity robots rather disturbing, but in a positive way. The structure seems futile and looks like it would break at the moment it drops. But, I guess I am completely wrong. Also, SPHERES was impressive too! “

“I was wondering if I could get an unpaid internship at NASA Ames doing some aerospace work, i.e., UAVs or nanosatellites for cheap space missions. If so, that would be AMAZING! “

BACKGROUND: The Job Shadowing program is meant to give students the opportunity to shadow a business or non-profit organization in an area of potential career interest. Such programs are very helpful for young people in forming their dreams for their professional future, and are also a great opportunity for NASA outreach. The High School team consisted of seven girls and eight boys.

TEAM: Diana Acosta, Adrian Agogino, Jose Benavides, Guillaume Brat, Maria Bualat, Howard Cannon, Dimitra Giannakopoulou, George Gorospe, Peter Mehlitz, Guy Power, and Chris Teubert

POINT OF CONTACT: Dimitra Giannakopoulou

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