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Joseph Kamel, Class of '11

Bachelor of Science in Engineering-Mechatronics
Staten Island, New York

If you had told Joseph Kamel years ago that he'd one day work at NASA, he might have thought you were from another planet. Now the prospect doesn't seem so out of this world.

Kamel, a 2011 Vaughn graduate, last year completed an eight-week internship with the country's space agency. Working in the optical instrumentation branch of NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, he focused on wireless signal transmission for a Mars Rover-like vehicle being developed for space and Earth-bound use.

Kamel, 23, lived at the facility for seven weeks, working alongside some of the agency's top scientists and engineers.

"If you had told me [years ago] that I would have an internship at NASA, I would have said there's no way I'd get there," Kamel says. "Now I know I can get there."

Kamel has always had a bit of the pioneer in him. As a junior at Brooklyn's Fort Hamilton High School, he interviewed civilian astronaut Greg Olsen, and later worked as a project manager at American International Group (AIG) on Wall Street. He came to Vaughn to study piloting but switched to the school's groundbreaking mechatronics program.

The Staten Island resident plans to pursue a master's degree in a related field, perhaps after securing a full-time job. Skilled in the assembly of complex devices, he can see himself one day as an inventor in the business-services sector.

"Taking things apart and putting them back together ... I've always been that kid," Kamel says. "I'd like to invent something resourceful and relevant to companies."

The Glenn Research Center is one of more than a dozen NASA facilities nationwide. It provides systems and other technical support for the agency's aerospace initiatives. The facility, adjacent to Cleveland's Hopkins International Airport, includes 140 buildings and 500 specialized test centers.

The center is, of course, named for legendary astronaut and former Ohio senator John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth.

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