City College Helps Students
Prepare for Careers in NASA
Working for the National
Aeronatics and Space Administration (NASA) need not be a
dream deferred; it can in fact be a dream come true. A division
of NASA, the Center for Optical Sensing and Imaging (COSI)
focuses on the development of key optical technologies and
methodologies for sensing and imaging the earth and environment.
Part of NASA-COSI’s mission is
the recruitment and training of underrepresented minority students
to learn to do research and development. Students work in labs,
developing an understanding of the theoretical principles and
practical applications in the area of optical imaging.
A NASA Research Day
was recently held at City College (CCNY) where luminaries
in the field of space study presented their work and personal
motivations in the field. Dr. Jack Kaye, Director at NASA
of the Research Division in the Office of Earth Science,
provided about 300 inner city high school students with a
background of the mission and visions of NASA—including
understanding and protecting the home planet. Utilizing remote
sensing devices like spacecrafts and satellites, he explained
how NASA obtains information about the environment.
Kaye related to students
his fascination with using remote sensing to see an aerial
scale of one’s school, the site
of one’s favorite baseball field, and one’s home.
He pointed out the skills required to work in NASA—one
need not necessarily major in earth science, but an understanding
of physics, math and chemistry are essential. Excellent communication
ability is a key ingredient, while being multi-lingual is highly
beneficial as “science is an international enterprise.” Dr.
Kaye cautioned students, however, “not to retreat to
planet science;” that knowledge of world politics and
current events is crucial for being a successful scientist.
Dr. Laura Danly, Senior Manager of Astrophysics Education
at the American Museum of Natural History engaged students
in a vibrant discussion, asking the audience how many would
like to go into space and how many follow NASA missions. Danly
highlighted the amazing discoveries and accomplishments of
NASA as well as challenges. She pointed out to students one
of the major activities for NASA missions is dealing with the
fatal danger of debris, which even originating from the shuttle
itself can potentially hit the shuttle and send it to its demise.
Danly also related to students the exciting missions to Mars,
which have the aim of understanding the physical transformations
there and the implications for our own planet.
With respect to specific careers at NASA, Danly pointed out
one of the less known and most dangerous jobs in NASA is retrieving
the rockets, which are dropped from the shuttle during launching,
from the ocean for reuse. For the artistically inclined, there
is work at NASA drawing renditions of the missions to space.
Preparing for a successful
career in science can begin early within one’s educational
career due to the COSI-NASA mission and the efforts of CCNY.#