For a pair of recent Vaughn College graduates, a summer internship at NASA was, well, otherworldly.
Shahidul Islam and Joseph Kamel recently completed a two-month assignment at the agency, using their mechatronics engineering backgrounds to produce a robotic arm for use on the International Space Station. The pair designed prototypes and oversaw the parts development and assembly of the arm at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
It was Kamel's second internship at NASA and Islam's first. The two graduated in May as part of Vaughn's first-ever class of mechatronics engineering graduates.
"It was great," Islam said. "We had to be as innovative as possible in designing the arm. The board of directors was highly interested in what we thought and said, 'OK.' "
The pair, whose Vaughn-taught expertise in CATIA software paralleled nicely NASA's NX7 programs, were part of six-person teams of interns and professionals who presented design ideas to top Goddard scientists and executives.
Kamel , who interned at the John Glenn Research Center near Cleveland last summer, found this experience even more challenging. "You had to work as a team," Kamel said. "You had to be flexible. We developed some very important skills."
It has been something of whirlwind summer for Islam and Kamel, who previously presented a paper at the prestigious Latin American and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institutions (LACCEI) conference in Medellin, Colombia. They earlier addressed the American Society for Engineering Education's (ASEE) annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
The NASA experience was the highlight, however.
"You wouldn't have cellphones or satellite dishes if not for NASA," Kamel said. "NASA has always been at the edge of exploration and it's good to go to the edge."
Recent Vaughn graduates Shahidul Islam, left, and Joseph Kamel outside NASA's Goddard Flight Center in Maryland