There I stood, nearly three miles away from Space Shuttle Endeavor as it gracefully launched into the sky, sending shockwaves that could be felt in my chest - and almost 3 million pounds of thrust to the Earth. During this feat, I couldn’t help but ask myself: “How is that massive device propelled into orbit?” This experience, as well as my inquiry, inspired me to pursue a career in Engineering. In fact, the shuttle launch was only part of a two week space/science program at NASA, geared toward high school students. During these two weeks, officially dubbed “The Governor’s School for Space and Technology”, students across Florida (including myself) were given the rare opportunity to tour NASA labs, engage in inquiry-based learning, and meet with actual astronauts. The program was undoubtedly inspiring, and even catalyzed change in interest for myself.
During the tour of the Engineering and Design lab, we were immersed within the typical day of an Electrical Engineer, an occupation of which I previously had an interest in. However, after being surrounded by a multitude of microchips, spectrometers, and motherboards, I wasn’t convinced that Electrical Engineering was right for me. Instead, the program veered my interest into Mechanical and Chemical Engineering. This “change of heart” was influenced by a presentation given on In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) on Mars. The presentation focused on using Mars’ resources to create a sustainable environment in which humans can prosper. The synergism of Chemical interactions and physical mechanics ignited my desire to follow these fields.
Prior to attending the NASA program, I enjoyed mathematics. However, I had a limited knowledge base concerning Engineering. I had met with an Environmental Engineer to discuss the implications of the field, as well as what the career entails. The meeting gave me a first-hand account of what Engineering is comprised of. In short, I learned that Engineering is a practice founded in science that, when implemented, serves to make systems work more expediently, efficiently, and effectively. With this in mind, who wouldn’t want a career in Engineering?
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