Friday, September 23, 2011


Hi Everyone!

I decided to start the blog by introducing myself.  I'm a Senior at UC Davis studying Mechanical Engineering, and currently, I am taking a quarter off to intern at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. I'm working with the International X-Ray Observatory group working on Mirror Technology Development.  

Inspiration: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.  One of the female engineers talked about her work on the Mars Land Rovers (2006) and her PhD work through Stanford (She was only 25). I basically said, "I want to be her." I would say I'm well on my way.

My start in research: I had always wanted to get involved in undergraduate research (after realizing it would be both interesting and a resume boost). One day, I asked one my professors, "What are you doing this summer? I'm bored."  It was very frank, but it got my point across.  I ended up working at the Material Performance Laboratory at UC Davis for a year.  I was able to learn about a lot of different machinery, break stuff, and I even got interviewed for the news! Link Below:

Internships: I got the opportunity to move to Dallas, Texas to intern for an air separation company.  I worked across the street from Texas Instruments' headquarters. (no, I didn't get a free calculator) :-(  I got involved with many efficiency projects by increasing the efficiencies of turbines and analyzing the potential crack propagation in some of the tanks.  It built on the existing knowledge from my research at the university.  I was also able to run around in coveralls, a hard hat, and steel toed boots! Take that boys! :-)

What I do at NASA:  I've applied for the past couple of years for internship positions at NASA, and I never, ever thought that I would get to work there! I realized, you don't need straight A's (but a high GPA definitely helps), and you don't need to be a genius.  Enthusiasm and a drive to work hard will get you through most of life. :-)

I am still an intern, but my group has given me some very interesting projects.  I currently figuring out ways to mount x-ray telescope mirrors without distorting them.  We've learned that if you stand across the room from one of these mirrors, your body heat will distort them! Right now, I'm working on some experiments regarding friction and the material strength of different adhesives.

After NASA: I go back to school for the Winter quarter, and I will complete my studies in about a year. However, I am researching PhD programs to apply to.  I am looking into a project involving biological research with my engineering background.  Some ideas have been the thermodynamics of drug transfer in the blood stream or way cells move throughout the body. But we'll see!!! :-)

Thanks for reading!
Serena C.