Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
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AEM spotlight:

Students interning at NASA over the summer

Summer is a season of beaches, barbeques, boating – and internships. While many students are interning at a local business or firm, eleven local aerospace engineering and mechanics students have their sights set a bit further out. Through the Minnesota Space Grant Consortium, run out of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics at the University of Minnesota, eleven local students interned at various NASA facilities around the nation in the summer of 2007.

Click the name of an individual to see his or her latest update.

Eric Axdahl worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California on next-generation Mars exploration equipment. Specifically, he designed a payload which may be sent to Mars on the 2016 Astrobiology Field Laboratory Mission. Earlier this year, Axdahl was involved in NASA’s Reduced Gravity program, where he experienced weightlessness onboard NASA’s Weightless Wonder while testing a scientific payload.

Sam Zarovy worked with NASA to create a new kind of autopilot. He implemented a beta test code that could lead to the creation of a “neural network” autopilot.

Jamie Wilt worked at Goddard working on the Constellation Program, attempting to solve the rendezvous problem concerning the Crew Exploration Vehicle and the Lunar Surface Access Module. She researched the best low Lunar orbit to minimize fuel consumption. After establishing the best orbit for rendezvous, she worked on trajectory optimization and sensor analysis.

Nicole Kessler worked at Goddard implementing quantum chemistry programs on Goddard’s supercomputers.

Zane Nitzkorski worked at Applied Physics Laboratory of John’s Hopkins University in Maryland to better map the moon through “occultations,” or the moon passes in front of a star. Also, Nitzkorski worked with staff planning trajectory reconciliation for the STEREO mission and more trajectory planning for the MESSENGER spacecraft.

Tom Chouinard worked on the MESSENGER spacecraft at APL in Maryland using computers to analyze properties of the craft in flight. MESSENGER will be the first spacecraft to closely observe Mercury since the 1970s.

Abdul Khan worked at APL on research “Reusable Spacecraft Software Architecture,” which would allow independence of flight system software and hardware. This could lead to fast, reliable, layered software development.

Mark Stole analyzed data collected on the new J2-X engine, which will power the new Ares rocket. Ares rocket development is led by Steve Cook, an AEM alumnus. The rockets are part of the Constellation program, which aims to take astronauts to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. Additionally, Stole developinged an injector for the new Lunar Surface Access Modules.

Erik Semrud worked on the Lunar Surface Sample Return, attempting to find optimal launching longitude. Once he determined that orbit, he will simulated variations in the orbital elements in an attempt to create contingency plans for variation the mission itself.

Steven Spaulding worked with the Deep Space Network Transmitter group, creating hardware for power amplification of High-Efficiency antennae.
Matthew Edelman worked at NASA Ames developing tools to short Carbon Nanotubes, a next-generation material. Edelman’s research allows for precision shortening of carbon nanotubes, which are microns thick. The precision shortening will allow Atomic Force Microscopes greater resolution, and could lead to other advances in carbon nanotube technology.

Internship opportunities at NASA Research Centers are posted at the "NASA Internships" link on the MN Space Grant web site (  Nearly all internships are restricted to students who are U.S. citizens.  Between 10 and 15 college students from around the state participate in NASA internships every summer, the majority in programs partially funded by the MN Space Grant consortium.  Individuals with questions are welcome to inquire by writing to or by calling the MN Space Grant office at 612-626-9295.

To learn more about AEM internship opportunities, visit or talk with office staff in 107 Akerman Hall.

Last Modified: Thursday, 26-Jun-2014 13:23:42 CDT -- this is in International Standard Date and Time Notation