Students and faculty participating in JPL Education Office programs are expected to meet certain requirements as defined by their program coordinator and mentor. These requirements are intended to help students and faculty develop good communications skills, outline and progress toward their research goals, and synthesize the work they've done during their internship or fellowship. Requirements may include the following:
Requirements vary by program. Check with your program coordinator or group supervisor about requirements for your program.
JPL requires that all students and faculty complete the following online training modules within two weeks of arriving at JPL.
The training modules are available at https://mandatorytraining.jpl.nasa.gov/. Note: To access these training modules, you must be at JPL and using a computer connected to the JPL (not guest) network.
In addition, certain research assignments may require that students and faculty are certified to perform tasks that could be potentially hazardous to themselves or co-workers. Examples are chemical, radiation and/or pyrotechnic operations. Students should not perform any of these special tasks without obtaining proper training. Consult with your mentor, section supervisor, section safety coordinator, or your program coordinator if you have questions.
Deadlines vary, but typically project plans are due a week prior to arrival or the first week of arrival. (Project plans for Maximizing Student Potential (MSP) students are due one week after arrival.) Check with your program coordinator for more information. Email your completed plan to your program coordinator.
The project plan is a detailed (2-3 page) outline of your project tasks and objectives as defined by you and your mentor before the start of your internship or fellowship. It generally includes background on and context for the research you'll be doing, your objectives for the project, the approach (techniques, tools, resources) you'll use to meet your objectives, a timeline of the tasks involved, and a list of pertinent references. See Project Guidelines for more information on writing your project plan.
Due week 3 and week 7 of your internship or fellowship. Must be approved and signed by your mentor. Email progress reports to your program coordinator.
Progress reports (about one page each) should include a summary of how you've progressed toward your project objectives, including a discussion of the tasks you've completed, any challenges you've faced or anticipate, and any other observations you've made during the reporting period. See Project Guidelines for more information on writing progress reports.
Given near the end of your internship or fellowship. You will receive an email from the JPL Education Office with more details as the time nears.
All students and faculty participating in JPL Education Office programs are required to give a final presentation. The final presentation is a 15-minute overview of your internship or fellowship project presented to your colleagues, Education Office representatives, and others determined by your mentor. The final presentation should include an explanation of how your project aligns with the research at JPL and the specific contributions you've made as an intern or fellow. Students and faculty participating in JPL Education Office programs will receive more information regarding their final presentations, including scheduling, as the time nears. See Project Guidelines for more information on final presentations.
Due at the end of your internship or fellowship.
The final report is a detailed account of your internship or fellowship project written for a broad scientific audience. It should include background on the research you performed, the objectives you identified, the methods you used, and the final outcome or status of your research. See Project Guidelines for more information on writing your final report.
Students and faculty are expected to conform to laboratory and office policies and procedures pertaining to guest researchers. Note: Policies concerning schedules, time sheets, stipend checks, and travel vary depending on the student or faculty program. Please contact your program coordinator for more information about policies and guidelines for your program.
Students, like all JPL employees, must wear a badge above the waist at all times. If your badge is lost or stolen, notify the JPL Office of Protective Services at (818) 354-3530 immediately and arrange to obtain a replacement.
See the "Get Started" section of this website for information on obtaining a badge
There is no formal dress code at JPL. Most employees dress informally. However, remember that you are representing your school as well as JPL, so dress appropriately. T-shirt slogans are acceptable, but use good judgment as to whether they are appropriate. You are encouraged to dress more formally for your first day and your final presentation. Sometimes a group may have special visitors or events and require more formal attire.
We sincerely hope to never have to enforce this policy. But so you're aware, grounds for dismissal include:
- Failure to participate for the entire duration of the program.
- Failure to comply fully with JPL policies.
- Failure to abide by JPL’s ethics regulations.
- Failure to abide by the rules outlined in the student guidelines or Student Contract.
- Misuse of JPL equipment or services for personal use.
- Unsatisfactory or unsafe behavior reported by a supervisor.
- Chronic tardiness or absenteeism.
Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, is strictly enforced at JPL. Examples of sex-based discrimination prohibited by Title IX include:
- Sexual harassment and sexual violence, including sexual assault, that occurs in connection with JPL programs, regardless of the location.
- Failure to provide equitable opportunity for a student or employee based on sex.
- Discrimination on the basis of gender, gender expression, and gender identity.
In partnership with Caltech, the laboratory has confidential resources available for students, faculty and employees seeking support around Title IX issues. For information on how to reach these resources, see TitleIX.Caltech.edu/
Students who are under the Columbus contract are provided an option to elect health insurance.
JPL does not provide medical insurance for students and faculty. You are responsible for obtaining your own insurance, which should be secured before you arrive at JPL.
If you would like to bring visitors, such as family and friends, to the lab, notify your mentor or group supervisor at least two or three days in advance. He or she will need to submit and approve a visitor request on your behalf. Note: Foreign nationals cannot host visitors without a JPL employee present for the entirety of the visit.
If you receive an interview request from news media or other organizations, such as your university, contact web producer Kim Orr in the Education Office prior to your interview for guidelines and resources.
Watch the video below for more on interviewing and fielding requests from news media:
Students and faculty are not eligible for paid annual leave, sick leave, or personal leave.
JPL's Safety Office works to identify and manage health and safety risks at the lab. Follow these general safety guidelines while at the lab:
- Be mindful of walking distractions such as reading, texting or engaging in conversation.
- Use crosswalks – do not expect a moving vehicle to stop.
- Be aware that JPL is on the border of a National Forest and we share the land with the following residents: deer, mountain lion, rattle snakes, black widows, and tarantulas. Do not reach into any area that you cannot see. And do not feed or approach any of the animals on lab.
- Do not litter.
See below for additional safety procedures and resources:
Accidents and injuries on lab – Report any job-related accidents, injuries, diseases, or illness to your mentor and program coordinator. Injuries or illness that are, or might be, work-related should also be reported to JPL Occupational Health Services as soon as possible at (818) 354-3319.
Earthquakes – In case of an earthquake, stay in your work area and duck, cover, and hold. Wait for emergency notification (all clear). Ask you supervisor and/or mentor about emergency exits and evacuation sites for your office.
Medical services – Medical Services (located in building 310, next to the fire station) is available for minor first-aid and emergency care from 7:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. It is closed on RDO Fridays, JPL holidays, and weekends. Appointments can be made in advance by calling (818) 354-3319. Serious medical conditions are referred to local doctors, clinics, or hospitals. The fire station offers first-aid services after hours and on weekends.
Workplace environment – JPL strives to ensure that each student has a safe and healthful environment that is free from hazards that could result in property damage, injury, or loss of life. Each facility/building has a designated Facility Safety Head responsible for ensuring adherence to safety rules and regulations. Follow instructions from safety leaders when appropriate.
Also, see mandatory training requirements
The Laboratory has two work schedules: 5/40 and 9/80. On the 5/40 schedule, individuals work a total of 40 hours over five days (eight hours per day). On the 9/80 schedule, individuals work a total of 80 hours over nine days (nine hours per day) and have every other Friday off — called a "Regular Day Off (RDO) Friday."
Students and faculty are required to work eight to nine hours per day. You are encouraged to follow your mentor’s schedule. Note: If you are under 18, the maximum hours you can work per day is eight hours. If your section is on the 9/80 schedule, you will not come in to work on RDO Fridays.
If your program requires, notify your program coordinator of your work schedule within the first week at JPL. If your schedule changes, submit a new work schedule to the program coordinator.
Contact your mentor and program coordinator if you will miss work for any reason.
The use, possession, or sale of controlled substances is prohibited on NASA-JPL property. If a student under 18 years of age appears to be under the influence of a controlled substance, a parent or guardian will be notified and the individual released to them. A student who is over the age of 18 will face the consequences of an adult offender, including arrest and prosecution. Use, possession, and/or sale of any controlled substance are causes for immediate dismissal.
You are welcome to take photos and videos around lab, such as in the common outdoor areas and other areas accessible to tour groups and the like. However, you should always ask before taking photos of laboratories, equipment, spacecraft components, computer screens and other items that may contain sensitive or proprietary information. Avoid clear shots of badges – even at a distance. (It's a good idea to remove your badge before appearing in a photo or video.) Additionally, always be aware of your background and surroundings when taking photos so as to maintain your safety and avoid accidentally capturing sensitive information. See the policies and video on "Social Media" for more information about taking and sharing photos and videos.
If your program requires it, complete your time sheet on a daily basis and submit it for the reporting period — normally every two weeks. Time sheets are to be signed by your mentor or an alternate designated by your mentor. A copy is to be given to your program coordinator promptly at the end of each reporting period. Students are responsible for providing copies if their school or sponsoring program so requires. Time sheets are provided by your program coordinator.
If applicable, stipend checks are issued when a copy of the completed, signed time sheet is submitted to your program coordinator.
If you are a student employee through human resources, please utilize JPL’s timekeeping and payroll system, EBIS. Ask your supervisor or business administration manager (BAM) if you have additional questions.
The JPL Education Office does not provide funding for travel. If a mentor requires that you travel with him or her for a job-related activity, it is the responsibility of your mentor’s organization to provide funding. Your program coordinator must approve all travel off lab and be notified at least one week before departure. Overnight travel is strongly discouraged.
The purpose of these guidelines is not to provide a template that you must follow, but rather to suggest a structure for your paper and to encourage you to consider the content, style and audience. If your mentor suggests a different approach, you should follow his or her advice. Also keep in mind that what you submit should reflect the conversations you have had with your mentor and the guidance you have received from him or her, but it must be your product.
Requirements vary by program. Check with your program coordinator or group supervisor about requirements for your program.
Success in research demands that you be deeply involved in what you are doing, understand its purpose, and take personal, intellectual responsibility for accomplishing your objectives. The project plan is meant to familiarize you with the research you'll be doing at JPL and encourage you to start a dialog with your mentor about your project objectives, as well as plans and a timeline for achieving those objectives.
Email your completed project plan to your program coordinator one week prior to your arrival at JPL. Note: Project plans for Maximizing Student Potential (MSP) students are due one week after arrival.
Objectives – Define the goals for your project. What do you aim to accomplish and how? What is your starting point? What are your initial assumptions or the current conditions? What are the criteria for project completion or success? What will a successful outcome look like?
Approach – Describe how you will achieve your objectives. What are the project milestones? How long will each take? What are the possible challenges and how do you plan to overcome them? What equipment or resources will you need? With whom will you be collaborating? Will completion of your project depend on results from other people in related projects?
Project Schedule – List the key milestones for your project and when you plan to complete them and include a timeline for tasks that are necessary to achieve your objectives.
References – If applicable, include a list of papers or reports that you have consulted to prepare your project plan. Also include remarks or suggestions from your mentor, team members, or others related to your project.
How do I create a project plan if I have no experience or prior knowledge of the subject?
Even if you have some experience in the subject matter of your internship or fellowship, it's a good idea to reach out to your mentor before you arrive at JPL to learn more about your project and its objectives. Ask your mentor about pertinent research that might provide you with more background on the subject. Learn whether there are tools or software you could practice using ahead of time. Also take this time to get to know your mentor, their interests, and their mentorship style a little better.
Online research and speaking with others in the field are also great ways to gain familiarity with your project.
Who will read my project plan?
The people who will read your plan will include your mentor and/or co-mentor, technical reviewers for the program, and the program coordinator(s). The primary beneficiary of the plan, however, will be you, because the process of writing it will help you clarify your thinking about your project and its purpose.
How long should the plan be and what should be included?
A carefully thought out and worded project plan of two to three pages should be sufficient.
Concerning structure and content: Start out with the sections identified in the outline above and answer the pertinent questions in each part. Once you have this material developed, you can reorganize it so that it flows more logically.
For students and faculty in certain programs (check with your mentor to see if your program requires progress reports), a progress report is due at the end of the third and seventh weeks of the internship or fellowship. The purpose of these progress reports is to help you focus on the goals of your project and check in on your progress toward those goals. Progress reports also provide a framework for your final paper and presentation. A general outline for these reports is below, however, mentors may have other suggestions and ideas for material that should be incorporated.
A progress report that has been approved and signed by your mentor (not your co-mentor) is due at the end of the third and seventh weeks of your internship or fellowship. The completed, signed progress reports should be emailed to your program coordinator.
1st Progress Report
Overview – Describe your project or research at JPL and how it fits in with the laboratory's objectives. Include references.
Approach – Define the approach you are using to achieve your research or project goals.
Progress – Discuss the progress you have made on your project and your goals for the next month.
Challenges – Mention any challenges you've encountered so far or anticipate, and your plans for overcoming these challenges.
Resources – List the resources or tools you will require to progress with your project or research.
2nd Progress Report
Methods – Detail the work you have done over the past month; describe your experiments, progress on data analysis, and the like. Include exact technical specifications, quantities and methods in chronological order if possible.
Progress – Discuss the progress you have made toward your research or project objectives. What observations have you made? Describe how your observations are (or are not) in line with what you expected.
Challenges – Describe any challenges or problems you've encountered. What was the source of the problem and what have you done (or what are you doing) to solve the problem?
Revised Objectives – What are your goals for the remainder of the project? How have these objectives changed since you started working on your project and why?
The final presentation serves as a capstone to your internship or fellowship experience by providing you, your mentor and other stakeholders with a summary of your research or project and your contribution to JPL. The presentation should concisely describe your role on the project, the actions you took, and the results you produced. The presentation should also demonstrate your technical understanding of the research area.
The JPL Education Office will provide students and faculty, as well as their mentors, with information on scheduling final presentations and other pertinent details as the final presentation period nears.
Presentations can generally follow the outline of the final report with modifications for time and format. Be sure to include an acknowledgements slide.
Am I required to give a final presentation?
All students and faculty participating in JPL Education Office programs are required to give a final presentation before their last day at JPL. If you aren't sure whether your program is managed by the JPL Education Office, contact your program coordinator or check with your mentor.
How do I schedule my final presentation?
Your mentor or group supervisor will receive a reminder from the JPL Education Office in the final weeks of your internship or fellowship with instructions on scheduling final presentations. Note: It is the responsibility of you and your mentor to organize and host your final presentation in accordance with closed presentation requirements. Ensure that your mentor invites the Education Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) via Outlook and includes your name in the subject line.
Who can I invite?
Due to export compliance policy, your final presentation must follow closed presentation requirements. Check with your mentor or group supervisor before inviting attendees other than those he or she has identified – even if they are JPL employees, interns or fellows.
How long should my final presentation be?
Each presentation should last for 15 minutes, followed by 2-3 minutes for questions and answers.
What equipment or software should I use for my presentation?
Powerpoint is recommended and JPL-branded templates are available, here. However, you are welcome to use any presentation software that best fits your needs.
It's a good idea to check which equipment (including software and web browser versions, video players, speakers, dongles, etc.) is available in the location where you will be presenting. Depending on what's available, you may choose to bring your own laptop and hook into the conference room system via dongle or bring a flash drive and present from the resident computer.
Can I share my presentation with my professors, university or others outside of JPL?
Presentations that have not gone through the Unlimited Release System (URS), cannot be released outside of JPL. If you would like to take your presentation with you after your internship or share it with others, please work with your mentor to submit the full presentation to URS after your final presentation at JPL. If you have any questions, please contact Document Review Services at (818) 354-1141 or Janette Beas at (818) 354-2492..
The final report is a chance to record and reflect on your internship or fellowship project, examine the results of your research and identify opportunities to follow-up or extend your research. The process closely resembles that of writing a scholarly paper, which is an important component of scientific and even engineering practice.
Email your final report to your program coordinator before your last day at JPL.
Final reports should be clear, concise, and written for a broad scientific audience. Consult with your mentor to determine an appropriate writing style and work with him or her to edit your paper. Avoid using jargon or technical terms so that the paper can be understood by a nonspecialist audience. You can place any technical information in the "Methods" section. It may be helpful to have your peers in other disciplines read your paper to provide feedback about clarity. There is no word-count requirement for final reports.
Faculty Mentor (and co-mentor if applicable)
Abstract – Provide a succinct outline of your research or project. For experimental research, include the principal objective and scope of the project, describe the methodology, summarize the results, and state the principal conclusions. For theoretical research, describe the issue and analysis, and state implications for further research. The abstract should stand alone as a short description of your project.
Main Text – This section should be accessible to readers in any discipline including non-science fields and should include the following:
- Overview – Begin by providing background on your project, presenting the nature and scope of the problem being investigated, and giving rationale for the work.
- Results – Describe the results of your research or project with brief descriptions of the methodology when necessary.
- Conclusions – Finish with a discussion of the conclusions of your research or project.The implications of the research, relation to other work you've done, and future research directions should be included in this section. Even though this section may be technical, it should not be obtuse.
Methods – As noted above, materials and methods may be described briefly in the main text. However, lengthier and more technical descriptions belong in this section, which should be subdivided by short headings referring to the technique being used or the experiment being explained. This section is directed toward scientists in the author's field.
Figures – Include figures throughout the paper to illustrate your points. Explanatory diagrams (pictures from textbooks are fine) may help clarify information. Carefully choose your image sizes, font sizes, border widths, and labels to ensure that your figures are clear and consistent. Plot theory and experiment on the same graph and redraw screen photos. All figures should be accompanied by explanatory captions.
References – You are responsible for the accuracy of your references. References should be numbered sequentially as they appear in the text and should be listed at the end of the paper. Reference numbers should be in superscript when cited in the text.
Acknowledgements – Acknowledge your mentor and all other individuals who provided technical assistance, and the individuals, organizations, grants, or contracts from whom you received financial support. Students should be sure to include the names of their financial sponsors.
Appendices – Large data files, catalogs, tables, diagrams and archival information may be included in this section at the end of the paper.
Can I share my final report with my professors, university or others outside of JPL?
Reports that have not gone through the Unlimited Release System (URS), cannot be released outside of JPL. If you would like to take your final report with you after your internship or share it with others, please work with your mentor to submit the paper to URS. If you have any questions, please contact Document Review Services at (818) 354-1141 or Janette Beas at (818) 354-2492.