Nicole

About Nicole

Senior

Aerospace Engineering

Minor: International Relations
Age: 20
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Internship: Summer Internship with Ball Aerospace
Career Goals: To work on cutting-edge astronautics technology.
Activities: Society for the Advancement of Management, NASA Means Business Competition, research in the engineering department.
Why I chose Embry-Riddle: I had Embry-Riddle picked out since I was in 9th grade. I took an aviation class in middle school and my teacher mentioned it and I did some research and visited that year. Its number one for my field and everyone loves aviation and space as much as me!

August 4, 2009

Hello! It’s the last week of my internship and I can’t believe how fast the summer has gone.

Last week, four astronauts from STS-125 came to Ball to thank everyone for their work on the Hubble. In May they came out to Colorado to learn how about the hardware to be installed during the May final Hubble servicing mission. There was a lunch for the employees and then the crew talked about their experiences and showed up some cool video footage from the EVA (space walks) and their time in space. Then they presented the Ball Corporation and Ball Aerospace and Technology Corporation’s presidents with a plaque of gratitude for everyone’s help. Another intern and I were talking about how awesome the job of an astronaut would be. You get to go into space, experience zero gravity, and perform all sorts of cool experiments. Sign me up!

Today was the final banquet for all the interns and co-ops. They showed up a really cool video about the launch day of the BIRST Project I talked about last time. I’m hoping they publish it on YouTube so I can share it with you guys. Sometimes pictures are proprietary information so anything that you want to distribute outside of the company has to go through an approval process. At the banquet my payload team presented our mentor with a trophy we made. One of the interns had a trophy from when he was younger and we wrapped the little topper man in duct tape (symbolic of the duct tape on the payload) attached an alien paratrooper to one outstretched hand and a mini Ball flag to the other hand. Then to represent all the epoxy we used on our project we dripped some over the trophy which had a final appearance a little like gloopy icicles. Overall the present was quite ugly but it wasn’t our goal to make something attractive, just something to signify the summer fun.

Last weekend I drove to a town in the south east/central part of Colorado to visit a friend doing an internship in New Mexico (we met halfway). One of my favorite things about doing an internship is getting to explore a different area then I’m used to. The town we went to was pretty small, and my GPS got us really lost while looking for some fun hiking, but eventually we ended up at a lake and some of the views were breathtaking. Colorado is definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. We found a restaurant which had singing waiters! They would randomly break out into opera-like songs! Crazy, that’s all I have to say about it. Next week I’m going back to my hometown in Minnesota for a quick visit before driving back across the country for the fall semester. I can’t believe how quickly the summer has gone. But I can certainly say that I didn’t just sit around and do nothing!

July 2009

Hello everyone! I’ve been doing some sweeet things lately! The payload that I’ve been working on is FINALLY done! Last night we did some final “smoke bomb” testing. If you’ve ever seen the skydivers that jump and the stream of smoke comes out from behind them, we’re using one of those little devices, minus the skydiver of course. All of our little alien paratroopers were wrapped up and loaded into their piston shaft (it takes a very long time to preflight those little guys, wrapping each of their parachutes precisely). And then today we launched! We went to a ranch out in the middle of nowhere in Kiowa, CO.

There were 4 different launches scheduled. The first was a rocket made by an employee of ULA, it was 10ft tall and flew to like 5,000ft above ground level (AGL). The second was about 2 ft tall and was a scale model of a V-2 rocket and it went to 4,000 ft AGL, the third was called “The Boomer” and launched to about 13,000ft! It was awesome! Then our rocket was launched, it had 10 payloads total (because the payload that I worked on had 4 sub payloads). For anyone that is familiar with model rockets, we flew on a class N engine.

It took us a while to find all our payloads after launch. Since we were out in the middle of nowhere we had to trudge through a lot of brush and cactus, in the end we found our flag, smoke bomb, audio visual locator beacon, and about a dozen of the aliens. On my facebook I posted a video of the launch with my payload and also a video of “The Boomer.” There are also a lot more pictures. Check them out!

Some of my friends came into town last weekend and I went white water rafting! We decided to go on the “advanced beginner” route since we wanted a bit of a wild ride. The water was SOO cold. I suppose that makes sense because only a few hours before it was snow that was melted and ran into the creek. We also took further advantage of being in Colorado and did some serious hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.

It’s going to be weird going from this mountainous area back to Florida, which is all flat. I have missed the beach though, I’ve spent the last two summers in Daytona and I used to go to the beach at least twice a week and to not have that has been a bit of an adjustment.

July 2009

I can’t believe my time in Colorado is over half way gone. I’ve been at Ball for six weeks now and only have four weeks left.

Lately I’ve been working on a solar array sizing program. I never really liked programming before, but actually applying it to things that I’m interested in is actually pretty cool. In the program, you input the power loads (how much power the instruments need) and some other information which is specific to the satellite such as orbit altitude, and what you want to make your solar array and batteries out of. Then it spits out answers like how big your solar array needs to be, how many batteries are required and the eclipse and sunlight exposure times. I’m still working out a few final input error checks and the form the user fills out, but I’m excited to see my final product!

There are several other aerospace companies in the area and the intern coordinators organized a bowling night for all of us. So interns from Lockheed Martin, ULA and Ball, had a fun night together. I have no idea who ultimately won, but I scored higher than 100 and that was awesome for me.

My team’s payloads for the rocket are right on schedule, which makes our lives so much less stressful. I was talking to our mentor for the project and we was telling us that although it was a much simplified process, that the steps we went through with the designing, and communicating with the ULA interns was exactly what we would have to do after we graduate. This week we made mass simulating payloads for ULA to use to test their rocket, and next week we go back to their facilities to integrate our units into theirs. I’ll let you know how it goes!

June 2009

Hello everyone! I hope everyone is having a good summer because I know I am!

This last week has been crazy busy at Ball. We’ve been working on a lot of new proposals and with my BIRST rocket program, there hasn’t been a lot of free time.

Last week my rocket team started to actually construct our payloads that will be put in the rocket. Before I had said we were launching little paratroopers out of the rocket, but we couldn’t find any that were the right size and could get in the time allotted. So small change in plans, we’re now launching little mini aliens out of the rocket, it seems rather appropriate to me! I’m mainly working on the payload which is going to launch out a Ball Aerospace flag but last week I got to help out on another group’s area, the pyrotechnic initiators. For those of you that don’t know what it is, a pyrotechnic initiator is the part of the rocket that sets off the charge to jettison a payload out of the main body. Also if you’ve seen a rocket with multiple stages, a lot of them use the same devices to separate. Two interns from my payload went to work with ULA to learn about how to construct these devices. It was a little intimidating at first to be playing with gun powder but when we got to try one out, it was sooo awesome! Our team is going to test them out on our payloads next weekend!

This last weekend a few interns decided we wanted to take advantage of being in Colorado. We found a place in the mountains we wanted to go and set off on a hike. Longs Peak is one of the taller mountains in Colorado and we knew we didn’t stand a chance to make it all the way up, but about 2/3 of the way is a lake at the base of the peak called Chasm Lake. We had to start pretty early because the afternoons are usually when the storms creep in and being on a mountain with lightning doesn’t sound like fun to me. One of my favorite parts was the snow! At one point we had to climb across an ice shelf that was on a hill. The snow was melting so it was pretty slippery, especially on the way back when the sun was high. It took almost 5 hours to get there and back! I’m hoping to get to climb a lot more before I leave since there aren’t any opportunities back at school.

I’ll keep you updated on my internship and rocket! We launch the end of July so I’ll have exciting things to report!

June 2009

TGIF! One week into my internship and I am so ready for a weekend!

Just to recap, I’m working in the new business department of systems engineering at Ball Aerospace in Boulder, CO. It’s not what I expected (but then again I really had no idea what to expect) but it’s pretty sweet.

My department has a lot of engineers, even though it’s a little more business related, because of all the technical portions in potential contracts the company is bidding on. So basically when a company or the government wants something made they send out a bunch of information about what they need, all the requirements it needs to have, and the process to get it. It’s my department’s job to take all that info, ensure that we are able to competitively fulfill all that’s required, properly format it and ultimately send it back and wait to see if Ball gets the contract.

I’m learning this new program that is unlike anything I’ve ever worked with. It’s project management software; you can input information and manipulate it in a million ways to get the style of output you want. I’ve done some programming before so I’ve been able to develop some short cuts to make their process a little simpler since they do it over and over again.

I have to learn a new programming language because DOORS (the program) has its own language. It’s a little bit odd, one of the engineers I asked for help told me it was created in Europe and was designed for use in the European Space Agency. His theory is that the programmers were a little drunk while creating it because there are a lot of weird quirks about it and a lot of people have trouble with it, which made me feel better because it’s a steep learning curve!

Since I’ve been working, the Human Resources people have been awesome about scheduling tours for all the interns at various Ball facilities. We were able to look around the clean room a few days ago; inside I saw the WorldView-2 satellite under construction. I’m sure most of you have played around on Google maps at some point? Well WorldView-1 was created at Ball and it took most of the pictures for Google! Hurray for upgrades, who knows what this one will be capable of? We also had an intern picnic where they gave us free food, hurray! About half the interns are from Colorado schools, some are from Arizona and the rest are scattered. It’s nice to have a variety so no one really knows each other so we are all bonding pretty well.

Ball is teaming up with United Launch Alliance (ULA) in Denver and their interns are going to be building a rocket and the Ball interns are going to be building payloads for it! The rocket is supposed to go up at least 5000ft! The payload I’m working on isn’t going to be ejected from the body of the rocket and has over 5 cubic feet of room to work with, so brainstorming was difficult. Instead of trying to make some technological breakthrough (we only have 5 weeks to create the entire thing!) we decided to have some fun with it. I don’t know if anyone remembers those little green paratroopers that you would drop off staircases or balconies and the parachutes would deploy when you were a kid? Well my team is going to launch a ton of them out of the rocket as it descends after launch. We’re also working on dropping some modified smoke bombs out to help ULA with the wind directions to find the rocket after it lands. I’ll keep you updated on my team’s progress! We launch the end of July! There’s so much to get done before then!

May 2009

Hello! I hope you all are enjoying the beginning of summer/end of the school year.

Last week I went to Washington, DC as a student traveler for the Citizens for Space Coalition. Every year the organization goes to DC to speak with government members and their staff to educate them on the importance of NASA’s human space flight programs. It was awesome, they paid for about 20 students from across the country to come together to help the 80ish space industry professionals. There were two other students from Embry-Riddle that also attended. I represented Minnesota because that’s my home state and other students represented where they are from. While I was there I met with lots of people, including aides from Congressmen Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, Michele Bachman’s offices and Senator Amy Klobuchar, all from Minnesota. Here’s a picture of Amy and me. I also had the opportunity to talk with several from Oregon, Indiana, Illinois, Idaho, and South Carolina.

Walking through the capital buildings was so surreal. I’ve been to DC before, but always as a tourist. Members of the government had always seemed so far removed to me, like people you vote for and never really hear from again. It was awesome to be able to sit down with these people and talk about something I am passionate about, space flight.

I went to all these offices in a team of four and we each had our little parts to talk about. I discussed how important of an investment it is in our future to keep the Constellation and Shuttle programs fully funded. We’ve already spent so much money on both projects and to not continue allowing them to grow is a total waste of the money spent thus far. I also said that NASA is a source of national pride. I’m sure you’ve all seen the movie Apollo 11 but you can clearly see on those people’s faces how excited the entire country was! If we go to Mars or back to the Moon, maybe we can unite the nation towards that goal in these tight economic times. But enough rambling about why space rocks, because it does, but that’s beside the point.

After my trip to DC I spent a few days in Daytona saving my apartment from the random heavy rains. My parking lot had fish in it! It was ridiculous, but nothing was damaged so that was good. Now I’m in Colorado, I start my internship in a few days and I am so excited! I think I spoke a little about it before, but just to recap I’m going to be working in systems engineering at Ball Aerospace. It’s a really cool company; they worked on the Hubble and also the Deep Impact program. If you aren’t familiar with it, check out their website BallAerospace.com. Starting a new anything is always a little nerve racking but then again, it’s going to be new to everyone, not just me. I’ll post after my first day! Wish me luck!

May 2009

Hey everyone! I’m glad you’re all interested in Embry-Riddle! It’s an awesome school and I love it here! I became interested in the space program when I was really young. I went to space camp when I was in elementary school and since then have wanted to become an astronaut. In high school I took an aviation class; my teacher mentioned the name Embry-Riddle and after that I knew that’s where I wanted to go to college. When I came to visit, I saw how everyone here loved aviation and aerospace and knew it was the place for me.

This summer I actually won’t be spending much time on campus. I will be very busy with a lot of other things. A few days ago I competed in the NASA Means Business competition (more on that later), I’ll be going to Washington D.C., to meet with government members and tell them why space exploration is important and to ask their support in funding the space program, and last but certainly not least, a systems engineering internship at Ball Aerospace in Colorado!

My NASA Means Business team and I have been working since last fall on a branding strategy, which is basically a marketing campaign, for NASA’s new manned space flight program, Constellation. For those of you who haven’t checked it out yet you definitely should! It’s going to be taking us back to the moon and onward to Mars! We were named finalists back in December and all the finalist teams were invited to Kennedy Space Center for the final presentations and some behind the scenes tours. It was really cool to see what all the teams had came up with and how different everyone’s ideas were. Sadly the competition overlapped with Riddle’s commencement ceremony and I wanted to see my friends graduate so I wasn’t able to go on the tours but my teammates said that went said it was awesome. They were able to go inside the vertical assembly building and also walk underneath the shuttle. We didn’t win but the winning team had a few similar ideas to ours so it was encouraging to know that the judges liked them.

I’ve been communicating with the HR representative at my internship via e-mail and I am so excited to start. There won’t be anyone else from Embry-Riddle with me; I think the majority of the other interns are from schools in Colorado, and a few from Cornell and Purdue. In the beginning of college all the general courses, like all the math and physics, got really boring but this year I’ve actually been able to start putting things I know into an aerospace prospective. Finally being able to apply it to engineering and see why all these classes were important will be sweet! I’ll write more after my trip and if you guys have any questions about school feel free to e-mail me at fossu15a@erau.edu!