The summer after my junior year of high school I participated in an internship program through NASA which remains one of the most rewarding learning experiences of my life. Due to my previous experience with robotics outreach projects, I worked with my mentor and fellow interns to develop an education outreach miniature Mars rover for the Digital Learning Network (DLN) at GRC. The DLN is a program that allows classrooms nationwide to have video-chats with NASA engineers and scientists. The robot we built was designed to be compatible with the DLN, allowing more dynamic presentations. We developed a website that allows students to remotely control the robot, which simulates the condition of driving the Mars rovers. My role was to develop the software that ran on the robot itself, in addition to generally helping to guide the project and to develop curriculum and materials necessary to make the project a successful education outreach tool.
Thanks largely to my mentor, Herb Schilling, and many dedicated NASA engineers and interns, the project remained a teaching tool for many years following my internship. It has been used in a variety of educational outreach settings, and featured in a number of exhibitions.
Most importantly, however, I personally gained invaluable experience during the internship, thanks to my mentors and fellow interns. It was during this summer that I decided to major in Computer Science, and I became confident in my choice to pursue engineering projects. Many years later, I have remained in contact with my mentor at NASA, and I seek opportunities to provide similar mentorship to younger students.
"I was very impressed with the way Beth could listen to the needs of the project and turn these into a working prototype. [...] Beth was very quick to pick up and learn needed skills if she was not familiar with them to begin with"
Director of DLN at GRC
"The rover project team consisted of three high school interns, including Beth. I assumed I would have to spend a lot of time leading the project. I was wrong. Beth took on that responsibility and did a terrific job. She identified tasks that needed to be done. She worked with the other interns to make sure they got done. She did this using some excellent organizational skills."
Supervisor & Mentor at NASA