Zac Colovos – Academics Spotlight
Mahurin Honors College (MHC) wants every scholar to have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a field they love during their academic career. For some researchers, internships are the most logical way to explore their future career. For Zac Colovos (MHC ’24) his cooperative internship with the NASA Pathways Program will be a multi-semester experience during his college experience.
Zac Colovos is originally from Bowling Green, KY and is currently pursuing a major in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. He is very involved on campus. Zac is a HonorsToppera Ogden College Student Ambassadora Top Guidemember of the Phi Gamma Delta Fraternitya regular volunteer at WKU Hardin Planetariumthe vice-president of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the secretary of Hilltopper Astronomy Club (HAC), the social media coordinator for the WKU Department of Physicsas well as a member of Physics Student Society (SSP), Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM), and the Industrial and Applied Mathematics Society (SIAM).
Currently, Zac is in Houston, Texas at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) is completing the first of three internships under NASA’s Pathways program. After completing his three internships under this program, Zac upon graduation will be considered for full-time conversion with the various departments in which NASA works. Within the Crew and Thermal Systems (CTSD) division of JSC, Zac currently works in a team. perfecting the design of water filtration systems for future long-duration human spaceflight to the Moon and Mars. His current roles include responsibility for the operation and analysis of a silver electrolysis reactor at different levels of dissolved oxygen concentration, which will allow the team to optimize future reactors found in long-life water filtration systems.
So how did Zac find out about this amazing internship opportunity? Well, Zac had been in touch with a few people who had already completed that internship program. These contacts had highly recommended the program and provided Zac with all the advice he could.
Zac is the definition of a persevering seeker who does not give up on his goals. It took about two years of applying for Zac to finally reach the interview stage of the lengthy application process for this program and finally land the job. Zac explained how, “The biggest aspect of my internship that I hope to continue to develop for the rest of the semester is networking. I’ve already interacted with dozens of smart minds and even made friends with several astronauts during my first month at Johnson Space Center As my friends and family know, working for NASA in any capacity has been a lifelong dream of mine, so even getting an interview was a big deal. for me. I’m not sure what my ‘big dream’ in space exploration looks like, but the beauty of the Pathways program is that I will be able to work in multiple areas of the agency before I graduate.”
From this internship to the present, Zac’s undergraduate experience has been enriched by many aspects of this program. He explained how, in his opinion, teamwork skills and knowledge acquisition are two of the aspects that greatly influenced his experience as an undergraduate student. “My first week consisted of learning the material necessary to understand what I had to work on. It was a lot of Chemistry and Electrical Engineering, which used to be two of my weakest subjects, but I’m proud to know that both of these subjects have been strengthened significantly.
Zac mentioned how the CMH greatly prepared him for this internship. He acknowledged that he couldn’t “imagine not conducting educational research or lab time before this experience.”
His top advice for CMH scholars considering pursuing an internship, especially competitive internships, would be to “study hard in school, get involved on campus, and apply every application window.” He pointed out that he still didn’t feel most qualified for a job at NASA, but he explained how “confident he was that [his] determination and dedication paid off.
“As a TOP Guide and Honors Topper, I love being able to share what WKU has done for me and more importantly what it can do for others. We all have incredible passions and I urge others students to follow your big dreams, get involved on campus and, as Saint Augustine said so well, “work as if everything depended on you”.
Zac, we are so proud of all you accomplish! We can’t wait to see what you do next!