HUMAN EXPLORATION AND OPERATIONS
During the summer of 2012, students from the University of Alaska participated in an internship at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). One of those students was Marcus Jackson, an athlete and engineering student at UAA. Jackson spent his summer break at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. For as long as he could remember, Jackson had been fascinated by space. The internship at NASA was the perfect opportunity for him to further explore that passion. “When you think of space, you think of NASA,” Jackson said.
One of the more unique aspects of his internship was his appreciation for the process each NASA project undergoes. While attending monthly project status updates at the center, Jackson saw first-hand how space projects develop. “I saw how science, engineering, and business each have an important impact on a project’s success,” he said. “This allowed me to have a greater appreciation for the complexities and diversity of the work related to spaceflight,” he said. Jackson added that seeing the development of numerous scientific projects got him thinking about how what he learned in college could impact his future career. He was fortunate enough to be invited to a Maryland Space Business luncheon, while gave him the opportunity to expand his professional contacts in the field.
Back at the center, Jackson learned about NASA’s testing and design standards which not only expanded his engineering vocabulary, but helped him appreciate the problems inherent to launching anything into space. “All this renewed my enthusiasm for my studies,” Jackson said. While he used to attend class in order to eke out a decent grade, that’s all changed since returning from the internship. “Now I am motivated to really immerse myself in my engineering studies and I have sought out additional opportunities outside of the classroom to expand my knowledge and skills,” he said. “I have realized that with the same focus and dedication with which I have pursued basketball excellence, spending extra hours training and constantly striving to improve, I must now also channel into becoming an engineer,” Jackson added.
What’s the biggest lesson he learned working for NASA? “I really do not ‘know everything’ and I have a lot to learn,” he said. “I am more motivated going back to school so I can dive into my studies,” he added. “This summer at NASA was an invaluable learning and growing experience,” Jackson said. “I had a great time working there and I know looking back, it will be an important milestone in my life.” Jackson is continuing his education at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
Article by Jeremia Schrock. Photo courtesy of Marcus Jackson.
Name: Marcus Jackson, Undergraduate Student
Institution: University of Alaska Anchorage
Award: NASA Internship
Funding Period: 2012