More than 300 high school and college interns worked at JPL this summer in areas such as robotic hardware systems, and nano and micro systems.


Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Summer Student Internships

Hi, my name is Victor Mejia. I am a summer intern here; I came in through the
NASA MUST program through the minority education office. And this is my fourth summer here.

I work in the imaging-processing laboratory.

They get these huge images from JPL flight instruments. But often they're too
large to view on a standard computer or even high-definition television screen.

They create these animations where you zoom in and slowly pan across the images to view them in detail.

This is important for scientists since they want to, for certain areas, of, say, Mars, that they want to explore, or mainly for the media and things like that.

These animations, they often take time to make.

What they wanted to do was to automate the entire process and they came along to give me part of the task to write the software to automate the creations of these animations.

What I'm thrilled about this summer is that my software is going to be used by real scientists.

For the first couple years of my life, I lived in south LA. So that was pretty rough.
After that, I lived in Boyle Heights for a couple of years.

That was around that time when gangs were pretty big, you know.
Seeing gang members around my neighborhood was pretty normal.
My mom's been a single parent since I was five years old.

So that was definitely a source of motivation for me to just push harder for education.

You do real work here, you know. I mean, in the beginning, when they gave me the task, for a couple of weeks, I was like, this is impossible, you know, what they want me to do.

But then you work through it, you know, you talk to people, you get some help and once you get something working, it's so rewarding. It's definitely helping me for the future. I mean, it's helped me to decide what I actually want to do for grad school.

I do want to go into computer science for grad school, either image-processing or software engineering.

If I had any advice to give: definitely not to be discouraged. What happens to a lot of summer interns here is that they get a summer taskor they have to learn a computer language they've never learned.

And that's actually what I love about here - that you can come here and not know - not have the necessary tools to do what you're supposed to do.

But you learn them here on the spot. And then you walk off and go back to school with even a greater toolbox than before.
 [Screen text] Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

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