NASA $300K grant supports student internships at Goddard Space Flight Center

Kesha Williams
August 27, 2012

nasa-300k-grant-supports Five Elizabeth City State University students and two members of the faculty recently completed a 10-week summer research program at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.

In January 2012, Dr. Akbar Eslami, a professor in ECSU's Department of Technology, received a $300,000 grant from NASA to fund the summer research internship program for three years, as well as related research projects on campus during the academic year. The research opportunities are reserved for minority students pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Of particular interest are research projects related the aerospace industry.

The five students, Henry Mishoe, Michael Sutton, Ka'Ren Byrd, Dwayne Brooks and James Lee, interned at Goddard from May 22 to July 27. They were accompanied and assisted in their summer research by Eslami and Dr. Jamiiru Luttamaguzi, a visiting assistant professor in ECSU's Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation's largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists who build spacecraft by instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system and the universe. Eslami said the student interns obtained innovative training and exposure to relevant aerospace research topics in areas of radar, antenna, satellites and instruments.

Expenses related to the summer research projects were covered by a portion of the $300,000 grant, which also supplied a $10,000 stipend for each student. The students in turn were responsible for paying travel, room and board expenses from their stipends.

Prior to starting the summer internship, the students were introduced during the spring semester to advanced topics in math; applications of MATLAB, a math and engineering software; and SolidWorks, a computer- aided design software. Weekly training sessions helped the students gain relevant research skills related to aerospace research topics.

With the summer internships complete, additional research assignments related to the summer research projects will be completed during the academic school year. Eslami said the entire experience will acclimate the students to conducting and completing research with major research agencies.

"These type internships will help prepare the students for engineering and aerospace jobs. They will also help prepare students for the kinds of work they will complete if they enroll in graduate school," Eslami said.

Students qualifying for the internships are expected to have a minimum grade point average of 3.0. Students also must major in sciences to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

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