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Engineering internship examines public policy

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Engineering internship examines public policy

Marc Canellas, a junior in mechanical and aerospace engineering, was one of 13 students selected nationally to participate in the Washington Internships for Students of Engineering (WISE) program. Canellas will look into the policies of human space travel.

With a goal of grooming promising engineering students to be public policy savvy, several professional engineering societies in 1980 founded the Washington Internships for Students of Engineering (WISE) program. Students chosen to participate learn how government officials make decisions on complex technological issues and how those in the engineering profession can contribute to legislative and regulatory public policy decisions.

One of this year’s 13 WISE interns — selected from a national pool of applicants — will be Marc Canellas, a junior in mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Missouri.
“My research showed that somewhere around 50 percent of bills that pass through congress have a significant technological component,” said Canellas, sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to look at space policy.

Canellas said that he proposed the topic in his application, and also wrote why he felt it was important that engineers be involved in policy decisions.

His space policy topic will examine various ways the United States could re-establish a human spaceflight program. “I will write a paper about my findings that will be published in a WISE journal,” he said. “I’ll present the various options for space policies and then say, ‘this is the one that will work best.’ ”

While in Washington, interns will have direct contact with government leaders, congressional committees and corporate government affairs offices.

“I’ll be meeting with people from Boeing, Northrop Grumman, NASA, Lockheed — anyone who wants to discuss my topic about the re-establishment of a human spaceflight program,” Canellas said.

“The fact that I get to go into NASA headquarters…oh my gosh. Astronauts are my rock stars,” he said, adding that it is his dream to be an astronaut.

Canellas will be in Washington from June 4 through August 6, working under the guidance of a faculty-member-in-residence, and staying in a residence hall at George Washington University in the heart of D.C. He also will interact with representatives of SAE who will serve as mentors.

“I think it’s going to be the time of my life,” Canellas said.

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