EDWARDS, Calif. – A NASA internship is what a lot of students dream of, and one from Anchorage, Alaska, is living that dream at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.
Johanna Lucht, an undergraduate student majoring in computer science at the University of Minnesota--Twin Cities in Minneapolis, was awarded an internship through the NASA Achieving Competence in Computing, Engineering, and Space Science, or ACCESS, program. The program is designed for undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities who have strong backgrounds in science and a desire to pursue technical careers.
Lucht first became interested in computer science when she was one of 10 deaf students chosen for the computer science summer academy at the University of Washington.
"Computer science was entirely a new world to me and I love the challenge it provides," Lucht said. "It can be used with any subject and I love learning, so I thought it was perfect fit. I am more interested in human and computer interaction, because I believe that it is the key to the future growth of technology."
For her 10-week internship, Lucht is working on an improved ground collision avoidance system, a stand-alone smartphone app that will provide warning cues to general aviation pilots to avoid impending ground collisions while flying. It uses collision-avoidance algorithms and a terrain database to provide a reliable, accurate warning to pilots. Lucht's role is to develop a graphic user interface for pilots to interact with the program.
Lucht, who spent the first 12 years of her life in Germany, enjoys the hands-on experience she receives at Dryden.
"My experience helps me to improve my teamwork skills with people in my branch and different branches" in Dryden's organization, Lucht said. "I would love to have another chance to work at NASA."
The highlight of Lucht’s NASA experience, so far, has been getting a sneak peek at Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser project, a contender for the next-generation vehicle to transport astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit, including the International Space Station.
For more about NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, visit: