NPS Presents Latest Cohort of Summer STEM Interns > United States Navy > News-Stories
For the Navy and Marine Corps to maintain technological superiority, the services require a strong community of scientists, engineers, and technologists ready to meet the current and future challenges of the service, now and for years to come.
The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) has its own strong history of advocacy for STEM disciplines. Working closely with the Office of Naval Research STEM Coordination Office, in addition to partnerships with regional institutions, the NPS has become a key contributor to the Navy’s STEM aspirations, providing opportunities for hundreds of students high school and college students to cut their teeth on advocacy-targeted research alongside NPS professors and scientists.
The current generation of interns, one of the smaller groups compared to years past, have spent several weeks working on a wide range of relevant Navy and DOD research projects while learning about top researchers in their fields of interest. most.
Joao McGuire of Monterey was an NPS intern for three consecutive years and has returned to recharge in the research work he wants to excel at. He is working on an undergraduate degree in physics and economics at Johns Hopkins University.
“The NPS summer internship program really impacted my prospects for graduate school,” said McGuire, a graduate of York School in Monterey. “I got a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins because I felt NPS provided the tools to be a better learner during my high school years, including the hands-on lab work experience I got. acquired during these summer months.”
McGuire’s internship this year is sponsored by the Naval Research Enterprise Internship Program (NREIP), one of several sponsored internship opportunities in the ONR portfolio. His undergraduate degree will have an institutional concentration in materials engineering and he plans to pursue graduate studies in the interdisciplinary field of materials science or aerospace.
This summer, McGuire worked with carbon steel-nanotube composite structures, performing a wear test to determine the failure dynamics of the structure. He used aluminum silicate as an abrasive at various friction points and times, using a scanning electron microscope to analyze component failure.
“I have just been trained on the new focused ion beam scanning electron microscope,” he explains. “It’s a bit intimidating to work with these machines, but it’s certainly cool.”
McGuire worked alongside former NPS mechanical engineering department assistant professor Andy Nieto in the school’s materials lab. Tragically, Nieto died in a scuba diving accident in Monterey Bay in July, but he left a profound impact on so many around him, including his trainees.
“I would say Professor Andy Nieto was my favorite person to work with here. He calmly moved through the issues in a way that I hope to emulate. May he rest in peace,” McGuire said.
Many NPS campus interns are part of another program in the ONR portfolio, the Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program, or SEAP. The program places high school students in Navy labs where they participate in real naval research for eight weeks during the summer.
SEAP is a competitive program with approximately 300 internships in over 30 labs across the country. Interns are selected based on academic achievement, personal statements, recommendations, and career and research interests. There are three regional areas across the United States in which students can apply.
NPS Research Associate Alison Kerr has led the university’s internship programs for several years, working closely with ONR and several regional institutions to build an impressive program that has had an impact on the lives of hundreds of students. Kerr is ending his last summer at the helm of the program and is retiring at the end of the year.
According to Kerr, 260 interns came to the NPS through SEAP, 167 through NREIP, and localized efforts like the Hartnell College program provided an additional 201 students with opportunities to deepen their knowledge of science.
Materials Science has the largest number of trainees in this current cohort, with Nieto and Dr. Claudia Luhrs supporting a total of six trainees over the summer. In addition to McGuire, Abigail Kim and Sneha Gokaraju have teamed up to explore additive manufacturing research.
“Our research involves examining 3D printed polymer composites under certain conditions, those conditions being the ‘as printed’ and the QUV test. [accelerated weathering test] samples to see if UV radiation influenced the materials,” Kim explained. “This is the first research project I’ve been involved in and I’ve learned a lot.”
Interestingly, Kim learned about the SEAP program through a friend just weeks before the application deadline.
“I had the chance to go to the meet where people can see what projects are available and meet the mentors,” Kim said. “I saw that this project was based on 3D printed materials, which I found very interesting, so I emailed the mentor for this project and was lucky enough to be selected.”
Kim, who is entering her freshman year at Carmel High School, thanks program manager Kerr for creating such a positive experience for her and her fellow interns, especially under difficult circumstances.
“Alison Kerr is such an amazing person! She has helped all of the new interns by providing them with a support or contact line if we need resources for our projects or have general questions about the NPS,” Kim said. “She was so supportive when we lost our mentor. [Nieto]and I am so grateful to have had the chance to meet her because she is such a caring and compassionate person to be around.
Lahari Yallapragada was fortunate to work with the senior faculty of the NPS Department of Computer Science, Drs. Neil Rowe and Arjit Das. Both colleagues have done pioneering work in digital forensics and cyber warfare.
“Coming into this internship, I had very little experience in big data analysis,” Yallapragada said. “After 8 weeks, I learned many valuable skills, not just big data analysis.
“Specifically, [we learned about] adapt the data to a logistic scale; create histograms; use complex mathematical formulas in Python programming, such as the Euclidean distance formula and the logistic sigmoid function; and the basics of machine learning models through Weka software. I also gained valuable work experience in a professional environment that I hope to use in future internships and jobs,” she added.
Yallapragada, a junior from Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, Calif., did her research to find the best internship program for her, looking at NASA and UCSB before making the decision to apply to SEAP.
“I want to work in IT, especially something to do with artificial intelligence,” she said. “I can use the many computer skills I learned at NPS, and I can build on my basic AI/ML knowledge that I learned during this internship, for the future.”
A rising senior at Carmel High School, Zack Seifert, worked with faculty associate Ross Eldred at the Center for Autonomous Vehicle Research where he learned to design and manufacture custom circuit boards.
“This custom circuit is designed to achieve my teacher’s goal of building a closed-loop vehicle, which means the vehicle will make different decisions based on its environmental data from sensors,” said Seifert, who really appreciated the advancement of his skills in computer-aided design (GOUJAT).
“My advanced CAD skills will help me design new products for my future startups and better lead my high school robotics team,” Seifert said.
“NPS teachers are super cool and helpful,” he continued. “I also like the RoboDojo lab because they have a lot of 3D printers and other awesome tools. And I learned a lot about the NPS and our country’s military.
With another cohort of summer internships on the books, the experience, inspiration, and education gained ensures that the university contributes to the Navy’s STEM aspirations, imperative to keeping the United States competitive. in this age of technological superiority.