MOREHEAD, Ky. — Summer internships are a way for students to explore career paths, develop core skills and establish a network of mentors. Three Morehead State University juniors in the space systems engineering program will be spending the summer gaining practical experience within their field of interest.
Kristen Ammons of Morehead, Sarah Estep from Science Hill, and Katerina Winters of Pleasureville, will be interning at top research institutions across the country.
Ammons will be participating in the summer internship program offered by Massachusetts Institiute of Technology’s (MIT) Haystack Observatory. Ammons will be working on a small satellite mission called AERO which will be launched in 2022 and will be used to sample low radio frequencies from Earth’s auroral zones— the Northern and Southern Lights. She will be involved with the mission from the ground floor as she will be exploring the capabilities of the sensor, the engineering of the satellite itself and aspects of planning for the mission.
“It’s still a holy mackerel feeling,” said Ammons. “The MIT, big letters, wants me to come spend time with them over the summer.”
As for Estep, she will be interning at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif. She will be working on the development, design, fabrication, flight testing and data analysis of prototype gliders. These gliders are designed to link up a mesh sensor network to monitor the atmosphere of Mars. Through this internship, Estep’s dreams are becoming a reality.
“I’m so excited for this opportunity,” said Estep. “Working for NASA has been a dream of mine since I was little. Growing up, I dressed up as an astronaut every chance I had.”
Winters will be interning at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory this summer, where she will be working on the communications systems for AERO. Her time will be spent either working on the mechanics of the antenna or with the actual transmission of the signal. This is Winters’ second internship. Last summer she interned with Pumpkin Space Systems in San Francisco where she worked on testing and characterizing Pumpkins’ space grade battery.
All three students agreed that being a space systems engineering student at MSU is what set them apart from the rest of the pool of applicants. It was their experience working on hands on projects that helped them get accepted into their respective internship programs. Ammons and Winters are currently working on the Space Science Center’s Lunar IceCube Mission, while Estep is working on the Space Science Center’s CXBN-3.
“Being accepted to this internship program is 100% thanks to the fact that I am a student at MSU Space Science Center,” said Winters. “I wouldn’t have been able to get my name out there and network like I have, if I wasn’t.”
Ammons added, “What other engineering students typically don’t have at an undergraduate level is the hands-on experience that MSU students get. I’ve had the opportunity to get in the clean room, to break things and to fix things.
For more information about Morehead State’s space systems engineering program visit www.moreheadstate.edu/study/spacesystemsengineering or call (606) 783-2381.