This summer I had the amazing opportunity to participate in the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Within this program, I first attended the Bioastronautics Institute and then interned with NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. Through my time with NASA I was able to figure out where biomedical engineers, such as myself, fit into the space program.
The Bioastronautics Institute was a whole week of presentations from post-doctoral students, chief scientists, and even astronauts. We heard all about cutting-edge research in the field of space life sciences, such as countermeasures for bone loss caused by spending long durations in microgravity. We heard about outreach efforts, happening through NASA, with the aim of getting kids excited about science and engineering. And although I personally cannot imagine going into space, we learned about what it takes to become an astronaut and the lifestyle they have during training and in space.
After the first week, I dove into my internship at the Johnson Space Center in building 37, home of the Biomedical Sciences. The first few days were filled with meetings to learn the objective behind the research with which I would be assisting: to find a possible countermeasure to the negative side effects caused by space radiation. Being a part of this project was exciting because space radiation is considered, by many at NASA, to be th
e number one road block on the mission to Mars.
In the midst of summer, my typical day started in the lab prepping white blood cellsamples for simulated microgravity culture. Once those cells were incubating, I would promptly start analyzing the previous day’s samples using a technique called polymerase chain reaction, which outputs the dysregulations seen in the cells’ gene expression. Furthermore, several days a week, we had guest speakers give presentations on topics related to NASA, i.e. how food science fits into an astronaut’s life.
My days were sometimes extremely busy and I was constantly running around, but it wasn’t hard to find motivation to keep working. Being able to play a role, no matter how small, in getting man on Mars was an amazing experience that I will never forget.
My name is Alex Schussler and I will be graduating with a degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Arkansas this upcoming spring. This past summer I had the opportunity to intern with L’Oeral in an operations role. I learned so much from this experience and I hope all of you find an internship as fun as mine!
Showing my family the facility re-design I got to implement!
I had never been inside a manufacturing plant before, and it was crazy how many different robots are used in the production of make-up. My job was specifically working in the distribution center with one other intern. My days started at 7am, where I’d make sure to walk around the facility to check on the teams I was working with. Then, I would attend daily production meetings where we would figure out which customers were the priority for the day, what shipments would make it out on time, and discuss any recent incidents. After these meetings, I spent the rest of the day working on my projects. One of the key things I learned from this experience was to always ask questions. Almost everyone you meet wherever you work will most likely be willing to help. I had the chance to work with some amazing people, and I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish a whole lot without them.
On top of all of the amazing people, I also got exposed to a new industry that I hadn’t considered working in before. Figuring out what you want to do for a career is hard, and internships are there to help you figure things out. With L’Oreal I got the chance to make some great friends, network with different types of people, and most importantly get me closer to deciding what I want to do upon graduation. I highly encourage every college student to intern for a summer or two, and if you’re given the opportunity to co-op, do it! These opportunities truly help shape you to become the best engineer you can be.