Summer Internship at NASA Glenn Research Center

Name: Taylor Ceh

Type of Project: Internship

My summer was spent at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH. I worked under the Engineering Directorate in the Materials and Physics Research Branch. At NASA I did research and lab work to support the Materials and Structures for Extreme Environments core competency. My main objective during my internship was to research and test ceramic and polymeric materials for the power system of a hybrid electric aircraft design.

As a student in Materials Science Engineering here at Ohio State there are so many possibilities for me after graduation. This can often feel like a blessing and a curse because I am not sure what specialization in the field I would like to go into. My summer at NASA really helped me narrow down my choices and showed me what it would be like to work with polymeric and ceramic materials. This internship also gave me the opportunity to meet materials science engineers at work and showed me many different possibilities of what I could do after graduation. I worked with other materials scientists, chemists, chemical engineers, mechanical engineers, and technicians with different backgrounds and knowledge as well, and that helped to show me that no matter what specialization I choose within materials science, I will be able to do something that I really like doing.

In addition, I really enjoyed using some of the things that I have learned throughout my time at Ohio State. Sometimes the material that is covered in class can feel useless, but I was actually able to use a few of the things that I have learned in some of my different classes. It also made me happy that I remembered these things, which proved to me that I actually am learning the material in my major and that it is pertinent to my future job.

This experience also really changed my opinions on working for the government one day. I worked with both civil servants and government contractors, and I got a lot of pros and cons about each of the two groups of employees. Before this internship, I did not think that I would want to work for the government as a civil servant because of the lower salaries and less control of what research I would do, but I heard many really interesting facts about civil service that have stuck with me. I learned that civil servants have a lot more freedom than I originally thought, that they end up with very similar salaries to people in industry after only a few years, and that they get great benefits. After talking to my mentor and secondary mentor, I am in the process of applying to some civil servant positions that I would be able to start fulltime after graduation, which is very exciting.

I had the opportunity to interact with many of the other interns who were at the center during the summer. NASA Glenn hires around 200 interns each summer, and there were about 20 who worked in my building. I had a great time learning about them as people and all of the different cultures that they brought to Glenn with them. Being from the Cleveland area, I really enjoyed showing my new friends some of my favorite spots in the city, but I also enjoyed hearing about different activities that they did in their respective areas of the country and the world. There was a sizable number of interns who came to NASA Glenn from Puerto Rico as well, and I had a great time learning about their culture and even learning a few new Spanish words.

I think that this experience really impacted my future as an engineer. Not only did it give me my first internship experience, which is important when trying to gain other opportunities, but it gave me a better idea of what I could potentially be doing for the rest of my working life. I learned that I am not sure that I want to be a researcher, and after this experience I am considering looking for jobs in a more manufacturing or technical role, to see which I would prefer. I also think, as an engineering student, I will be much more prepared to get a job after graduation thanks to this opportunity. I had to apply to dozens of jobs, take phone and in-person interviews, and get references from my previous professors. This was all hard for me to do while also balancing all of my schoolwork, but I was able to do it and I know that I will be able to do it again when searching for a full-time position.

Airplane Hangar and NASA Glenn

Airplane Hangar at NASA Glenn Research Center