Lake Area Technical College Students Gain Exclusive Experience During NASA Internships

October 29, 2019

Watertown, SD – Securing internships are program requisites for many Lake Area Technical College students, but for a select few, the sky’s the limit – literally. Over the last five years, students in LATI’s Electronic Systems Technology, Robotics, and Aviation Maintenance Technology programs have successfully landed competitive internships with NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, at sites across the nation.  

This exceptional opportunity requires students to complete a complex application process offered by the South Dakota Space Grant Consortium (SDSG), the link between NASA and South Dakota STEM students.  First, Lake Area Technical College students apply to the SDSG for internship funding and, if granted, proceed to the NASA multi-step internship application that includes an online class requirement, cover letter, faculty recommendation letter, resume, and transcript. The successful applications are then reviewed by SDSG’s Management Team and by NASA personnel. Together, the scholarship recipients are chosen and notified.

LATI Aviation Maintenance student Jacob Pagel, Watertown, SD, was awarded a NASA Armstrong Aircraft Mechanic and Technician Project internship for summer 2019 at the Armstrong Flight Research Center, located at Edwards Airforce Base in southern California. His 10-week internship included hands-on experience performing maintenance repair and integration of flight experiments on support and experimental aircraft.  

NASA internships for Electronic Systems Technology and Robotics students also offer hands-on experiences through the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars competition project (NCAS). The five-week scholars program offers students the opportunity to interact with NASA engineers and others as they learn more about careers in science and engineering. While at NASA, students form teams and establish fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Each team is responsible for developing and testing a prototype rover, forming a company infrastructure, managing a budget, and developing communications and outreach.

Lake Area Technical College Robotics/Electronic Systems Technology students who recently completed the 2019 summer NCAS competition projects include Bradley Goff, Kranzburg, SD; and Ethan Benck, Clear Lake, SD; who were located at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX; and Joshua Roberts, Watertown, SD; Justin Hildenbrand, Watertown, SD; and Garrett Williams, Arthur, ND; who were located at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH.

Funds have been earmarked for the NASA internship program through 2023 for students interested in future opportunities. For more information on the program, please visit: http://ncas.aerospacescholars.org/.