Over the summer, one of our students, Tucker Friberg, had the opportunity to do an internship with NASA. In an interview he told us all about his experience.
What made you decide to do your internship with NASA and how did you find it?
I actually had zero intention of doing it. I was really hoping to get an on-campus job this year and I was super excited about that. In the meantime, I was talking to a professor at NNU and he told me about the internship at NASA. So I applied to it in February, super last minute. I had to ask for my letters of recommendation to be returned in two days and I did not think I was going to get them at all. I really wanted the on-campus job, but when I had the interview, I didn’t get it. I was really bummed because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. Three days later, though, I got a call from my NASA point of contact and she told me that they had a spot for me. It was not a plan I had in mind but it just showed up at my feet and was like a door God had opened.
What did your typical day look like when you were there?
I worked at the Langley Research Center in Virginia, which was about an hour south of Washington D.C. and an hour from North Carolina. I would wake up and commute to work where I would get scanned in with my badge. Then I went in and was on the computer most of the day doing research; I also had a lot of meetings in different areas of research at the facility to work on our project. Our project team had seven people on it and there were seventeen of us in the program in total.
What things did you learn at NNU that helped you during your internship?
I took a physics class last semester for engineers but I am actually a math major. The class itself was so hard but it really prepared me for this project. And honestly, the community here at NNU—we always talk about community—but it’s true; when I was at my NASA internship, I didn’t really have that community. I was the only one on my team that loved Jesus, but because I knew I had a community at NNU it helped me to know what I got to come back to.
What was your favorite part of the internship?
The project itself was amazing. I didn’t work on any space stuff but I did work on wildfire research. It was not a traditional internship where you work underneath a mentor on their project, we could literally do whatever we wanted. So, our team developed this technology to improve communications for firefighters as they are fighting wildfires in the mountains. We are working on this way to help increase their communication capabilities because when you’re up on a mountainside, you know there’s limited communication. Just the fire science itself was the most fascinating thing, and the math and science behind it was awesome. We were really just trying to help firefighters and small towns. I am from a small town in California that is in a pretty wooded area so it kind of felt like I was fighting for that.
Tucker was recently informed that his group project from last summer was approved by NASA as a new technology. In the next few months, they will find out if NASA will pursue a patent on it. If you see Tucker, make sure to congratulate him on this exciting project!