October 29, 2019
Senior Melinda Groves spent this past summer interning at one of the nation’s most iconic federal agencies: NASA.
Working as a mechanical engineering intern, Groves was based at the NASA John Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, as part of the Icing Research group.
There, Groves focused on researching how ice forms under different atmospheric conditions to better develop aerospace technologies. She was tasked with analyzing scans of varying ice shapes to identify their characteristics.
The results of this research will ultimately be used to predict which conditions produce specific ice formations— an area of water properties scientists don’t fully understand.
Groves said that working at NASA was an incredible experience with opportunities she never could have imagined. Conducting impactful research and participating in NASA’s collaborative learning atmosphere were the highlights of her internship.
“This was more like learning—devising, creativity of thought and trying to figure things out to be able to prove a concept, which I thought was really cool,” she said. “Being able to have that kind of environment and getting to hear about what NASA was working on was really amazing.”
One of those one-in-a-lifetime opportunities was getting to conduct experiments in NASA’s Icing Research Tunnel where the temperature was a bitter cold -22 degrees Fahrenheit.
“I was a lot of fun. It really showed that if you get to work for NASA, you get to explore science and physics and really develop new understandings,” she said.
Aside from the groundbreaking research, Groves had the chance to attend NASA’s lunch and learns, where she was pushed to develop herself and think deeply about challenging topics.
“I think that really helped me not only bond with my co-workers but actually think about how I’m portraying myself in my professional experience,” she said.
NASA is the name everyone thinks of when it comes to anything aerospace, and interning for such a famous organization can be quite intimidating. Groves said that while she initially was very nervous, she left having grown as an engineer and a person.
“I would say the experience itself helped me to be more confident and independent,” she said. “So just knowing that you can handle things that you don’t think you’re capable of and challenging yourself to try and take on more than you think you can do is really important. You never know what you can do unless you’re trying to push yourself.”
Groves has a bright future ahead of her, and after graduating from the College she plans to focus on aerospace design and conducting field-work.