W&J Students take on the final frontier with NASA internships

Created: July 18, 2017
Last Updated: January 15, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (July 18, 2017) – Samuel Schaub ’18 and Garrett French ’18 are boldly going where no Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) students have gone before.

The rising seniors are spending the time between semesters in Hampton, Va., interning at the NASA Langley Research Center on the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III-International Space Station (SAGE III-ISS). The project is a part of NASA’s mission to understand and protect the Earth’s atmosphere.

The two Presidents learned about the program through W&J alumnus and SAGE III-ISS principal investigator Patrick McCormick ’62 when he visited campus for a speaking engagement. He encouraged students to apply to Hampton University’s CREST Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE). French and Schaub did just that, and were selected to perform research at Langley alongside mentors Charles Hill ’97 and Kevin Leavor ’07.

Schaub and French were thrilled to be chosen.

“I didn’t actually know that through CURE we could end up working at NASA,” Schaub said. “Working at NASA was something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid playing with toy rockets.”

The interns have had multiple responsibilities at NASA, including data analysis, programming and working with software control tables.

“The day to day duties are changing depending on the project we are working on,” French said. “Right now, I’m working on a filter design to eliminate some of the machine noise and phase shift out of the science data.”

In addition to their day-to-day duties, the pair attend meetings for the SAGE experiment and NASA workshops, and they are currently shadowing NASA professionals in various science and engineering positions.

The opportunity has helped both students further along their chosen paths. For French, that means providing a strong foundation to continue studying in physics in a graduate program. And for Schaub, it’s about opening up opportunities for more ambitious scientific goals in the future.

“The upcoming projects of NASA point to either gaining a better understanding of our effect on Earth, or getting mankind to Mars, it seems,” Schaub said. “Both paths have the potential to have far reaching implications for the future of our society, and many new positions for younger scientists to fill, which are both bandwagons I am excited about.”

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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