About 400 students traveled from around the country for summer internships, arriving early on June 1. They spoke excitedly about their hopes and expectations for this summer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“There are so many really cool, really smart people here and I want to get the chance to talk to them and see how they got here and what makes them excited and how science works in the real world,” said Rachel Odessey, a rising junior at Scripps College from Silver Spring, Maryland. This summer, she’s working on a computer model of the binary star Eta Carinae.


Although Michael Leveille has not learned exactly what he will be doing this summer, he is most excited about working at NASA as part of the scientific process. A rising senior at Colorado College, he is working with the space flight instrument catalogue, a class of instruments for working in near-Earth orbit.

Other students are working on projects studying objects so far from Earth they would take space flight instruments millions of years to reach.

Gloria Diederich, a senior applied mathematics major and physics minor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, will be working on deep space interferometry, the process of superimposing different light waves to study them. “In order to look really deep into space, you need a really big telescope — unless you use measurements of wavelengths, light, and interferometry,” she said. “That’s basically what it is: mapping out space.”

Many interns are especially excited for the opportunity to work hands-on and learn with NASA technology.

Jitin Krishnan, a computer science PhD student from India at George Mason University, will help develop an expert engineering system for artificial intelligence (AI). “I had previously worked with AI projects, and I’m excited because this would be something directly helping with systems engineering,” he said.

For Chad Law, a rising senior at Capitol Technology University, the chance to learn about new software is interesting. He is working in networks operations, debugging NASA security software and can’t wait to take a closer look. “I’m really excited with working on their code and their network, specifically that with Python,” he said.

Magdalene McArthur, a senior computer science major at Howard University, will be working on a science website protection project. She will work with other engineers and scientists to find possible vulnerabilities and improve strengths of NASA’s networks. “I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can from the different sciences and my team about new cybersecurity measures from NASA,” she said.  

Some students interned at Goddard previously and are back for their second, third, or even fourth internship, sometimes with the same project.

After a brief stint in the satellite systems capabilities office in January 2015, Anna Leonard returned this summer, when she will develop a Google Glass app to receive data collected remotely from a robotic arm. “I’m excited about getting to work with some of the people,” said Leonard, a rising junior at MIT. “I really enjoyed working with them during January and they’re just exciting and awesome and I can’t wait.”

Interns commit to spending seven to 10 weeks this summer at Goddard, working with fellow interns, exploring the center and the DC area and gaining experiences that will change their careers. Their efforts will contribute to Goddard’s research while allowing them to learn from mentors and network with other scientists and engineers.