Chloeleen’s Internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The sign right at the entrance to JPL.

During the summer of 2018, I had the privilege to work as an intern at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). It has been a lifelong dream of mine to work at JPL and I got to live it as a part of the Integration and Test team on the Mars Helicopter Project (which will be headed to space on the Mars 2020 mission).

This is a model of the helicopter that was brought out for a presentation at JPL about the project.

You may think “Wow, she must have done a lot to get an internship at JPL!”. However, my resume was as built as any inexperienced college student. One thing to keep in mind is don’t dismiss activities or projects done in high school; an engineering project I did in high school is what caught my JPL mentors’ attention when they decided to contact me for a phone interview.

One my first day, I was extremely overwhelmed because the project was well underway, and I needed to catch up. My mentors were very understanding and welcomed any questions I had throughout my internship. I was tasked with assisting with testing as well as writing procedures for future tests.

Outside the lab where they did the shock testing that I participated in.

Aside from work, JPL held several activities for interns the entire summer, like speaker events, short movie series, and facility tours. My most exciting experiences as an intern were: (1) participating in the NASA Summer Intern Challenge, (2) being interviewed for an article highlighting some projects at JPL, (3) participating and watching any Mars Helicopter test activities.

This picture was taken early on in my internship. This was my original carpool group.

One thing I learned from my experiences at Embry-Riddle is to be patient because hard work and a little luck will pay off. I’ve had some hard semesters where I thought I wouldn’t make it through a class, but I studied hard and got the grade I needed on the finals. The curriculum that was most helpful to me during my internship at JPL was Technical Report Writing. While different JPL projects have their own formatting requirements, I used what I learned to section the procedures I was writing, make sure that the steps were detailed, and ensured that there was enough information for each step with images, callouts, and tables.

This picture is the mission control for space flight operations. It is where NASA’s Deep Space Network is operated. It was named after the former director of JPL, Charles Elachi. The room
right next to this one is the room that JPL broadcasts from for mission landings, like the
Insight Landing that happened in November.

Cyber Defense Club Shines at Department of Energy’s Cyberforce Competition

Embry-Riddle Cyber Defense Club

ERAU’s Cyber Defense Club places 34th out of 80 teams for the Cyberforce competition, the team scored full red team points at half-time and was a favorite team at Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Cyber Defense Club sent 6 members to compete in the Department of Energy’s Cyberforce Competition.

The team was given 2 weeks to prepare a website, mail server, create users, patch vulnerabilities and secure 5 Virtual Machines that were given to them. They had to make the systems usable and work with a miniature oil pump and a raspberry pi cluster made of 4 raspberry pi computers that were given to them the day of the competition.

The team was the only team out of 4 competing teams at Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory that had the Human-Machine Interface, the raspberry pi cluster and the oil pump successfully operating.

Professor Jesse Laeuchli helped the students prepare and attended the competition for assistance with setup for the Raspberry Pi Cluster and the Oil Pump.

The students that helped prepare and compete were:

  • Michaela Adams
  • Dani Chappelle
  • Jacob Henry
  • Andrew Recker
  • Alan Tomaszycki
  • Jessica Wilson

The students acted as a Blue Team and was able to make a working machine for the users of the laboratory, and successfully defend against a red-team of hackers who were attempting to breach the system.

They also got to tour the laboratory and see the full-scale super computer that their miniature Raspberry Pi cluster was modeled after, meet members of the Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory and meet school members from UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara.

The students were given their oil pump and raspberry pi cluster to take home and use to help teach other members of the club and prepare for next years’ competition.

Out of the 4 teams attending Lawrence-Berkeley, the team placed 3/4 teams and nationally they placed 34/80 teams.

Rick Perry, the Secretary of Energy debriefed all teams competing in the competition to help show the importance of cybersecurity in our nation and how jobs in cybersecurity are the most-needed job in America right now.

The cyberforce competition is run yearly, and this was Embry-Riddle and the Cyber Defense Clubs’ first attendance of the competition.

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