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Affiliate Highlight - Spotlight on Sinclair Community College
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Lorain County JVS students complete engineering
internship at NASA

 

 

 

Lorain County JVS students Cory Trent and Katie Fallon spent the summer honing their technical skills at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.  Trent and Fallon completed NASA’s Lewis’ Educational and Research Collaborative Internship Program (LERCIP), an 8-week internship designed for high school students interested in science, technology, engineering, math or professional administration.


Both are students in the JVS Engineering Technology Program and both will major in engineering when they begin college next fall.  They agree that their summer experience at NASA was a great way to get started on reaching their career goals.

Fallon, of Midview High School, worked in the Icing Research Tunnel as a technician in training.  She helped test airplane part prototypes, mostly wings.    

“The icing tunnel is a huge wind tunnel that has a 5000 horsepower fan that can simulate wind up to 350 mph,” stated Fallon.  “Customers like Bombardier, an airplane manufacturer from Canada, hired NASA to test their designs to be sure that they would be safe to fly during icy conditions.”

“Some of my direct responsibilities included taking apart the spray bars that sprayed the super cooled water droplets onto the airplane parts,” continued Fallon.  “I also documented the tests we performed for the companies; taking pictures and uploading the files to our computer.”

Trent, a student from Elyria High, worked in the Engine Research Building.  He worked with a government contractor conducting tests on combat helicopters currently being used by the Army.

“One of the issues with helicopters in Iraq is debris getting inside the bearings.  The debris causes the motors to seize up and not function correctly,” stated Trent.  “Many of the tests we performed focused on improving the bearings in the helicopters to eliminate this problem.”

Trent also had the opportunity to run tests on equipment currently in use on the NASA Space Station.  “We tested rollers currently used onboard the space station in a special machine called a vacuum roller rig,” stated Trent.  “This device rolls steel and aluminum together in a vacuum to simulate the zero-gravity environment onboard the space station.  We tested the rollers inside this vacuum and made suggestions on how to improve their design so they don’t have to be replaced as often.”

As part of the internship, both students participated in seminars and workshops to help them refine their interviewing and job seeking skills.  “We created resumes and participated in mock interviews with Vincent Satterwhite, the director of the engineering division of the NASA LERCIP Program,” affirmed Fallon.

“After our mock interviews we were rated on things like our professional appearance, our handshake, our general attitude and how well our resumes reflected our skills,” stated Trent.  “We were given feedback that will help us when we go through the job search and interview process in real life.”

Both students agreed that being invited to be a part of the NASA LERCIP Program was a valuable experience; one that will undoubtedly give them an advantage over other engineering students, once they begin their college careers.  “I experienced working in a professional environment,” stated Trent.  “I saw ‘first-hand’ how teamwork, planning, and attention to detail is critical to doing a good job.”

“I tried to take the initiative to seek out learning opportunities every day on the job,” stated Fallon.  “I accepted any problem that came my way and did my best to solve it with the skills I had.  If I couldn’t figure out the problem I used the resources I had around me and asked for help.  It’s really important to have a sense of perseverance when you’re an engineer and your work is all about problem-solving.”

This isn’t the first year that Lorain County JVS students have spent an education-filled summer at the NASA Glenn Research Center.  “This is the sixth year that students from my program have applied and been accepted into the LERCIP Internship,” stated JVS Engineering Technology Instructor Mike Bailey.  “The application process is very comprehensive and NASA is quite selective.  There were only 10 students accepted into the engineering division of the LERCIP Program from a statewide pool of applicants.”

“The fact that two of the positions went to Lorain County JVS students speaks to the quality of our program,” continued Bailey.

Bailey credits a new pre-engineering curriculum adopted by the JVS for helping prepare his students with the “STEM” (science, technology, engineering, math) skills needed to succeed in college engineering programs.

“I use the ‘Project Lead The Way’ (PLTH) curriculum which is very challenging for students,” stated Bailey.  “The students respond to this curriculum because they get to solve problems using hands-on methods; they’re not just sitting in their seats taking notes while I lecture.”

The ‘Project Lead The Way’ curriculum’ has been so effective on the JVS campus that the school is currently exploring options to expand the pre-engineering program throughout the county.

Fallon and Trent agree that they were well prepared for their NASA Internship.  “We started at NASA with experience in technical drawing, mechanics, and engineering principals, and were able to take our skills to the next level working for NASA,” stated Fallon.  “What an incredible way to spend a summer vacation!”