Students share experiences as NASA interns with classmates

Posted: November 15, 2017

Wouldn't NASA be a fascinating place to work? 

Apparently, a lot of CBE students think so -- and on August 31, three of them offered to share their own experiences as NASA interns with a record turnout of interested students - nearly 200, in fact.

Classmates got an in-depth look at just how many opportunities there are for engineers and other majors throughout the country, and what to expect as a NASA intern.

Courtney Prebul, one of the organizers of the event, talked about her experience.

Courtney Prebul

"I worked on a project for electric structural aircrafts to be used on electric planes hopefully by 2020. My experience at NASA Glenn in Cleveland, OH was honestly an experience of a lifetime. I got to create and test a hybrid super capacitor battery structure that would soon be the structure on the wings of a commercial aircraft in the year 2020!" 

Courtney Prebul uses different mixing techniques on the anode slurry which is made up of silicon, carbons, and binder to create smaller particles and better results for battery testing during her NASA internship.

"I also received interviews from NASA's social media platforms and went on multiple tours around the center. I appreciate everything that my mentor taught me and for pushing me to reach my goals - it was an amazing hands-on experience!" said Courney, who serves as external VP of the student chapter of the American Institute for Chemical Engineers.

Courtney Prebul
Courtney Prebul shares her NASA internship experience with students during the NASA Information Session panel.

Riley Daulton

Riley Daulton stands in front of the operations and checkout building at NASA

Highlights of Riley's 2017 NASA internship included:

-Getting to work on technology that is currently flying on the International Space Station (R&D for different coatings for a heat exchanger)

-Listening to a lecture from Gene Kranz who was a flight director during Apollo. I got to hear him give his personal accounts of Apollo 13. 

-Receiving training to work and build a test stand in a machine shop while having very little prior experience with power tools

-Meeting 5+ astronauts!

Riley Daulton works in a machine shop to build a test stand for a study to compare new materials for a heat exchanger on the international space station.

"Sharing my internship experiences with others really showed me how lucky I am to be a part of NASA's mission, and made me very thankful to have motivated and talented peers who are also passionate about NASA at Ohio State," Riley said.

Nathaniel Olson

Nate Olson
Nate Olson
It's one thing to dream, but quite another to realize those dreams. Nate Olson knew even in high school that he wanted to support space exploration by working at NASA, and this past summer, he actually got to test-drive that dream by working at the NASA Gelnn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio as an intern. For Nate, it was a dream come true.

Working under his mentor, Dr. Frances Hurwitz, in the Material Chemistry and Physics Branch, Nate performed materials synthesis and characterization of a variety of aerogels. Aerogels are highly porous, lightweight materials that exhibit truly extraordinary properties. These materials can be up to 99.9% air by volume and are of interest to NASA for a wide range of applications.

Nate's work focused on the synthesis of yttria-stabilized zirconia (YSZ) aerogels for high temperature applications. He worked on optimizing the formulation and material properties of the YSZ aerogels for use in thermal protection systems. These systems may be utilized in manned aerospace vehicles, thermoelectric devices on space probes, and rovers for exploration of other celestial bodies.

Nate had the opportunity to present his work at NASA through both an oral and poster presentation at the Northeast Ohio Undergraduate Research Symposium. Additionally, he gave a seminar at NASA covering my work on imogolite nanotubes in the Catalytic Material Design Group that I’ve done here at Ohio State.

"Working at NASA has been and continues to be my dream," said Nate. "This summer only made that desire even stronger. The enthusiasm of every employee I talked to regarding their work was exceedingly evident. Being a part of the bigger NASA mission led me to be excited each and every day I went into work. Through my experience at NASA, I was able to learn technical skills related to materials research and also take away a wealth of wisdom from NASA employees, a group of people I have always admired and highly regarded."

Nate's advisor is Nicholas BrunelliRead more about Nate's previous research and how he has always longed to work at NASA!


Tips for applying for internships

  • NASA does a lot of research for the aircraft industry as well as spacecrafts. There are lots of opportunities for engineers as well as non-engineers. For instance, several students from other disciplines served as interns and participated in this panel (see below).
  • Apply for as many internships as possible. Even if you don't meet one or two qualifications, still apply.
  • NASA has interships year-round.
  • Don't forget to check out NASA's full-time work opportunities (the Pathways program).
  • It's a complicated and selective process, but very much within reach of many Ohio State students!


Students who participated in The NASA Internship Info Panel included:

  • Nick Sears, BS Mechanical Engineering, May 2017
  • Alaina Sliwinski, BS Finance, French, Music Enterprise Minor, May 2019
  • Taylor Huneycutt, BS Aerospace Engineering, Nuclear Engr Minor, May 2018
  • Courtney Prebul, BS Chemical Engineering, Humanitarian Engr Minor, Dec 2017
  • Marysa Addis, BS Electrical Engineering, May 2020
  • Nate Olson, BS Chemical Engineering, May 2018
  • V Wegman, BA Communication, May 2019
  • Riley Daulton, BS Chemical Engineering, May 2018
Category: Undergraduate