This summer one of our very own, Nevan Simone, had the opportunity to intern with NASA at Langley Research Center in Virginia. Nevan is a senior computer science major from Denton, Texas. His job at NASA was standard software engineering and he was assigned to create various databases for the information the team was collecting as well as build a UI for easier access to that data. Nevan’s average day included getting to work between 8 and 9 a.m., coding, documenting, and testing until noon, take a lunch break and continue the same thing until 5p.m.. In addition to the various daily tasks assigned to him, he also had a mentor who he met with during the day to help guide him and answer any questions he had.
Nevan says that he has always admired the vision and work of NASA, particularly in the astronaut program, and he was very excited to be a part of any portion of NASA’s work. In addition, this job appealed to him because he was wanted to branch out beyond the typical companies that hire for software engineering and to find more alluring projects. To get the internship, Nevan applied to NASA’s one-stop-shop-initiative (OSSI) for internships. This is the primary resource for researching and applying for a NASA internship. Due to the amount of internships available and the great diversity in the kinds of work there, he was able to find something that not only fit his skill set but was also appealing.
The most useful thing Nevan learned in class that he was able to apply during the beginning of the internship was all the practical elements of his software engineering class taught by Dr. Reeves. The later part of the internship required him to use material from Human Computer Interaction taught by Professor Prather. When work was slow, he found the most productive work option was to review Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krugs, which in fact is a book required for the HCI class.
Nevan comments that the internship did have an impact on his perspective of business and technology; his biggest take-away from the summer was that everything operates on a budget. He found it interesting that the available resources and the scope of the project depended on how much money leaders determine the project is worth. His best experience working there was being involved with Langley during its year-long 100th anniversary celebration. He was even able to attend the official birthday celebration where there was a field created to showcase the work that NASA has accomplished over the past century. Overall, his favorite part of the summer was realizing he was truly excited to continue work for NASA once he finishes his education. Nevan said that the drive provided by the nature of the projects energized him more than any thought of experience for his resume or finally making a living.