HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (Aug. 9, 2013) - Five students at The University of Alabama in Huntsville graduated today from summer internships at Marshall Space Flight Center.
The UAH graduates and their majors are Jaewon Choi, physics, mathematics, optics; Chris Hill, mechanical engineering; Markus Murdy, aerospace engineering; Glenn Scott Nesbitt II, aerospace engineering; and Maria Emma Torres, chemistry/biology.
Interns participated in a 10-week summer program at MSFC that began on June 3. NASA engages high-quality graduate and undergraduate students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields in research projects at the center.
The Alabama Space Grant Consortium (ASGC) at UAH managed two summer internship programs for MSFC: the NASA Robotics Academy and NASA Propulsion Academy. Teresa Shurtz is the program manager, assisted by Debora Nielson. Gerald Karr of the UAH Dept. of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the campus director for ASGC, is the dean of the NASA Academies.
UAH student Choi participated in the Robotics Academy. During the internships, students work directly with NASA scientists and engineers.
With my UAH experience, I can come in and be an asset to the team, instead of a drag on their performance.
The experience was a rich one for intern Murdy, a junior who worked with the MSFC Composites Manufacturing Development team on sump door fabrication for a composite tank under construction by Boeing Co. Research & Technology. The Composite Cryotank Technology Demonstrator is a project aimed at reducing the dry mass of liquid propellant tanks by 40 percent by using state of the art carbon composite materials.
"This tank is gigantic! It's 28 feet wide, 29 feet tall, over 28,000 gallons of volume," Murdy said. "When it is delivered to MSFC in the beginning part of 2014, it will be the largest composite tank ever fabricated, in an autoclave or out of autoclave."
The MSFC Composite Manufacturing Development team has some of the best hand lay-up composites people around, Murdy said. "It makes more sense to do the parts of the tank that are difficult to automate here. So that's what they did!" he said. "We are fabricating the top and bottom end caps for the tank in here at Marshall, in the same room where they fabricated all the composite external nose cones for the Shuttle program. It is amazing to go into work and be surrounded by the immensity of the heritage and history all around you."
Murdy, who carries business cards touting the fact he's a UAH aerospace engineering undergraduate, said that he already knew a little about the composites process going into the experience as a result of his UAH education.
"I've spent many days and nights in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering student machine shop - many thanks to (prototype development specialist) Steve Collins - on the different composites projects I've done with the Space Hardware Club. I've known about composites for awhile, especially in the aviation world," he said. "It wasn't something I was set on doing when I came as a high school graduate, but it was a door that was opened, and I took advantage of the opportunity to get real hands-on experience with it at UAH. With my UAH experience, I can come in and be an asset to the team, instead of a drag on their performance."
This summer at MSFC was one of the best experiences of his life. Murdy said. "As an aspiring engineer, this summer has given me practical, industry, hands-on experience and I have been able to create working relationships with many people, in and out of the composites world," he said. "These relationships will hopefully lead to future opportunities."
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