Friday, October 1, 2010

NASA JSC - Being an Intern is King!

We all have a responsibility – not only to our planet, to our families and friends, but to make sure we mentor, educate, motivate and be role models to our younger generation. Today’s youth is the leader of tomorrow!

When Colin asked me to spend a day with him, I was like super happy! No, Colin hasn’t traveled to Space (yet), he hasn’t set any long-duration flight records and I don’t think he has ever tried out an Astro Diaper (as you know, I have!). The reason why I am so excited to spend time with Colin is that he is an Intern here at Johnson Space Center.
Colin and I - the two coolest peeps in the SVMF.

First, let’s meet Colin.
So, you are a senior at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO.  What is your major there and what brought you here?

“My major is Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in Aerospace, and a minor in mathematics.  I grew up in Joplin, MO always following NASA and the manned space program.  I had always wanted to be involved in space flight for as long as I can remember, but I found out specifically what I wanted to do in the sixth grade.  In the sixth grade, our school participated in a program called the "Mobile Space Station."  The program brought a trailer made up to look like a space station. Half the day was spent in the trailer as an astronaut and the other half was spent inside working as engineers at mission control. This experience was the first time I discovered I was interested in engineering.  Since then my goal has become focused on becoming a Flight Director.”

See, this is what I mean! Another one of these stories where as a kid somebody had a dream and now this person is working hard to achieve his dream. So Collin, what do you here at JSC?

“I work for the OSO/RAM groups, DX42 and DX43.  These groups support all aspects of International Space Station (ISS) mechanisms and maintenance training and flight control operations. OSO (Operations Support Officer) is a certified Flight Control Team (FCT) position, and RAM (Repair and Maintenance) is a certified Space Station Training Facility (SSTF) position.  Responsibilities fall under two divisions:  training, led by the DX42 Group Lead, and flight control, led by the DX43 Group Lead.  The focus of my job is to develop flight control documentation, develop ISS crew and flight controller training documentation, and participate in ISS mechanism and maintenance lessons, as well as OJT (on the job training) at the Mission Control Center (MCC). “

How long did it take you to learn all these short cuts? I am still struggling with some of them! It sounds you have a very amazing function with a lot of responsibilities?

“Yes, the most exciting and challenging part of my job is making sure that during training and actual flight operations, we know every detail of the specific mechanism or system we are responsible for so the crew can count on us to support them before and during their mission.”
Well Colin, showed me what a day is like for an intern here at JSC! So the two of us together walked through long hallways, big buildings and waved lots of people along the way. He is taking me to two ISS mechanism and maintenance lessons.  The first lesson was titled “ISS Camera Review.” I feel like I am going back to school and I am loving it

Colin explains “In this first class we get introduced to the types of cameras used on the space station.  This includes several digital still cameras (including EVA cameras) and HD video cameras.  This class introduces when and how each camera is used, as well as where they are located on the space station.  We are even given the opportunity to handle the hardware during the class in order to become familiar with the cameras.”
Sign me up! I love cameras. More being in front of them though!
I am learning how to use the digital camera astronauts use during an EVA.

After that class we had lunch. Colin had a special surprise for me. Every day, some of the co-ops and interns working here at JSC meet for lunch at the cafeteria in B11.  Colin let me join them for lunch and I got to meet some of the other co-ops/interns. They were all very nice, maybe a little shy. I guess they are not used to lunching with a rubber chicken? No worries – there will be a class about that someday too!

The Interns and Co-ops! 
Then it was already time for the second lesson entitled “ISS Diagnostic Equipment.”  In this class we were taught about the hardware the crew has on board the ISS in order to diagnose problems with Orbital Replacement Units (ORUs) and general hardware.  We were also taught how to perform representative tasks using the onboard diagnostic equipment and its associated hardware.  The specific equipment covered was the LabVIEW Logic Analyzer, Xantrex DC Power Supply, Utility Outlet Strip, Databus Analyzer Tool, and the Fluke ScopeMeter.  We were then taught basic troubleshooting exercises using this equipment.
I am experimenting with the Diagnostic Power Supply
 during the Diagnostic Equipment training lesson
It was a great day with Colin. You should follow Colin’s updates on Twitter at Just this morning he gets to sit with the Flight Director in Mission Control! 

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