Members of the College of Southern Maryland’s (CSM) Engineering Club from the La Plata Campus traveled to Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), located at Patuxent River Naval Air Station and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt this month to tour the facilities and learn more about engineering projects and opportunities.
“I want my students to fully understand what engineers do and why the work they do is so needed,” said CSM Pre-engineering Coordinator Shadei Jones, club adviser.
“The exposure that these trips provide is really empowering, to picture myself working for these amazing organizations and to know that I can truly make a difference and that it isn’t that far-fetched,” said CSM engineering student Dillon Mandley of Charlotte Hall.
On Feb. 9, members of the club visited NAVAIR to talk to engineers and learn about internship opportunities there. On Feb. 16, members of the club visited NASA Goddard, where they saw the Science on a Sphere presentation, a presentation about climate change, and visited the viewing area of the clean room where the James Webb telescope was built and the engineered replica is being built. They also learned about the different materials NASA engineers use for various space objects they design and saw the test room for the Icesat2 and spoke with many different NASA engineers.
The visits were inspiring to the students, several participants said. “I heard one student say it was the best day of their life after we left the Science on a Sphere presentation,” Jones said of the NASA visit. “A cool highlight of the tour was when one of our students called his uncle who is an engineer at NASA and he came out and talked to the group. Our tour guide … encouraged [the students] to apply for NASA internships and she also said she would like to give the CSM robotics team a specialized tour of their robotic department, which is closed to the general public.”
“At times it is easy to get caught up in the rigors of school especially as an engineering student, but it is so important to keep in mind your end-goal career-wise and that is where these experiences at NASA and NAVAIR come into play,” Mandley said.
CSM La Plata Campus Student Association Treasurer and Club President Camille De Jesus said the students came back from the trips energized about their field of study. “Because these engineering students have met these NASA engineers that they dream to become, they are inspired from the many stories and words of motivation of these engineers,” she said. “Engineering students are one of the most hard-working students with difficult workload year round with constant math and science work. So, for them to go out to NASA allows them to be inspired and not lose sight of what they dream to do.”
“I am so happy that CSM provides the resources that make things like this possible,” Mandley said. “With that in mind, the potential for engineering students’ success is limitless especially considering the area we are in. The STEM careers in D.C., Maryland and Virginia are plentiful, and it is part of the Engineering Club’s mission to unite our students with these careers.”
For information on mathematics, physics and engineering studies at CSM, visit https://www.csmd.edu/programs-courses/not-sure/areas-of-study/mathematics-physics-engineering/.