I was given the opportunity this past summer to work ten weeks at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. More than anything, this summer has shown me that the path I have chosen for myself here at the UMR will lead me to a career that I will enjoy. It has also shown me that I have a long way to go in the next two years.|
While I was in Alabama I worked with MATLAB and Simulink to create dynamic models for liquid propellant slosh. This was an opportunity to see how the principles we learn in school are actually used. The dynamics and differential equations that everyone says you will never use again showed up on a daily basis. I feel I know them better now than I did when I was first learning them.
The truly rewarding experience of the summer was not the job itself, but rather the chance to be around so many people that have helped send man into space. More than once I was able to sit down and just listen to them talk about their experiences with the Apollo and Shuttle programs. Being around these people make you feel that any obstacle you encounter while trying to create something is insignificant. You know that even without the new simulation and design programs, they were able send people into orbit and land men on the moon. Even when I was frustrated and stuck on my assignment, I knew that with the tools I had been given, there was no reason that I should not be able to figure the problem out.
The most fun I had this summer was not in Huntsville. Seven of the other interns and myself drove to Florida to watch what ended up as an Independence Day launch of the shuttle Discovery. We took a tour of Kennedy Space Center and went inside the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) Refurbishment Facility, Atlantisí hangar, and out to Discovery on the launch pad. My favorite part of the day was the trip inside the shuttle processing facility that housed Atlantis. Our final stop was out to see Discovery on the launch pad the day before launch. Less than 24 hours later we were on a straight that connects two of the larger islands that make up Kennedy listening to the countdown and waiting for launch. I expected the launch to be loud, but did not realize how much of a kick the engines have. You could feel them in your chest as the roar tried to knock the wind out of you. Another thing that shocked me was how bright the flames from the SRBís were. I had sunglasses on and I still had to squint as I followed Discovery down range. A shuttle launch is something that everyone interested in aerospace should see before they are retired.
~ JESSIE HEINEMANN, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-ROLLA