I worked as a team member on the AstroBot project at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center through NASAMike's (Michael Comberiate) Robot Boot Camp. During the summer session, the lab is flooded with graduate students from all over the world in addition to students from different schools around the country.
There are comparitively few high school students during this time, and for the most part, it is the graduate students who run the show. However, given the nature of the project (stereovision, optical sensing, and obstacle avoidance) and thanks to a recommendation from a previous Glenelg Intern at the site, Stephen Dibenedetto, I found myself employed for the summer.
I worked as one one of five high school student in a lab of 80 total. Only one other high school intern was included as an equal team member on a project. Due to my inexperience in programming in C++, I was unable to contribute much towards the actual engineering of AstroBot, however, by the end of the summer, I did develop a fundamental understanding of the language, and was responsible for many written and oral presentations on behalf of the team. My group included three other members:
- Our leader and software guru, Chris Gamache, who mentored me one-on-one about C++, C, C#, Assembly, Python, and the project in general. His goal for me was to learn the basics of C++ by the end of the summer, which I did with the help of many text books and his lessons/exercises.
- Jason Trinidad, who was in charge of electrical/mechanical reconstruction of AstroBot
- Kevin Hamerski, who took charge in integrating hardware and software
We took a week-long trip to NASA Wallops base to present our work and see the projects students and scientists were working on down in Virginia. When we returned, there were a few more weeks of work, a final recorded presentation (not shown here) submitted to sponsors, a rush to make sure all work was documented for incoming teams to follow, and our group left for the summer.
I had the chance to participate in and later help instruct a self-defense class of my colleagues after work on base. After earning my first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do in 2007, and later abandoning the training a year later, it was good to get back into old habits and demonstrate a level of competence aside from engineering (in which I was unable to distinguish myself due to my inexperience compared to all the graduate students).
By the end of the summer, I was speaking Spanish again on a regular basis, had picked up a few phrases of Portuguese, and had become familiar to nearly all 80 colleagues, 9 with whom I still keep in touch.
Please visit my journal section for a more detail log of summer activites: hcpssgt.digication.com...
And see my photo album page for more resources.