GUEST: My job at... NASA by Chris

Oct 30, 2010

It’s GUESTRAVAGANZA! This is a guest post by Chris Upchurch

Last summer I interned at NASA Kennedy Space Center. I'm a computer engineer at UCF, but my placement was a little different... I was placed with NASA Engineering - Aeronautics Division 5 (NE-A5).

A5's sole responsibility is overseeing all space shuttle main engine (SSME) operations, from preflight to touchdown. My "job" was essentially a tour of duty of all the jobs NE-A5 was responsible for. So, I experienced various work environments, such as engine assembly/checkout, engine controller simulation and debugging (some of the hadware in the sim lab still used wire-wrap interconnects), and engine installation into the space shuttle.

I was able to support the engineers in my group as we went through various procedures for the upcoming STS-133 launch in November. Some of the notables were sitting in the shuttle firing room to participate in an all-hands launch simulation, being an extra pair of eyes for a main engine checkout in the engine shop, and (one of my favorites) being within FEET of the engines as they were running through a gimbal clearance check (moving the engine nozzle gimbals through full ranges of movement).

It was an awesome experience, and I hope to work with the SSME avionics team next summer as well."

 - Chris Upchurch