Hands-on training! NASA opens applications for summer interns: Here’s why these internships are important

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March 3, 2021 2:38 PM

NASA offers internships to school and undergraduate students.

Students can apply for NASA’s internship via a dedicated website that the space agency has. (Image: Reuters)

Internships at NASA: The US’ space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA, is a dream organisation for any space enthusiast who wants to enter the field of engineering or aeronautics. Keeping that in mind, NASA offers internships to school and undergraduate students. And these internships have opened up again for the summer session, with students having the chance to apply till March 5. Unfortunately, however, these internships are restricted to children having citizenship of the US. That means that children in India are not eligible to take part of a golden opportunity like this.

NASA internships: What do they offer?

NASA’s internships are held in three sessions – spring, summer as well as fall – and students are selected and placed in projects in these sessions.

NASA internships take applicants who are 16 years old at the time of applying, and they must be either full-time students, ranging from high school to graduates. The students must also have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. All of these requirements are tacked on by NASA because it integrates the interns into the NASA teams and allows them to contribute to authentic missions and projects that it is working on. An added advantage to the students is that they do not need to have prior experience, allowing them to get their first hands-on experience in this field at the prestigious organisation.

Students can also look to earn from these internships, because the US space agency mostly pays a stipend award to the students based on their academic level as well as the length of their internship. However, there are some volunteer opportunities, which is usually indicated in the description of the internship.

The space agency may select an applicant based on their application at any point of time after they submit their application, and in case they are selected, the agency would inform them.

Students can apply for NASA’s internship via a dedicated website that the space agency has maintained.

NASA also has a special internship programme called NASA Pathways Internship, which unlike other internships, provides interns with a direct pipeline to work for the space agency full-time if the long-term goals of the agency and the intern align. This is also available to US citizens, with applicants needing to be at least 16 years old when applying. They would also need to have a cumulative GPA of 2.9 on a 4.0 scale, and be enrolled on at least a half-time basis.

The importance of internships at NASA can be understood by the story of Dr Swati Mohan, who is the head of guidance, navigation and control operations at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and headed the altitude control system of Perseverance Rover for Mars Mission 2020. She interned at several departments of the space agency during her education, before ultimately joining the agency full time and working on the Perseverance mission for eight years, leading to a successful landing of the rover on the Martian surface last month.

NASA internships provide students with a much-needed on-the-job training and offers them a deeper look into the world of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), encouraging more and more people to pursue careers in these areas.

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