NASA Days connects students with industry professionals

NASA Days connects students with industry professionals

Students that normally have their eyes to the sky, turned their attention to Shelby Quad on Thursday, gathering for the University of Alabama's second NASA Days.  

NASA Days, hosted by The College of Engineering and the Capstone Engineering Society, has the goal of exposing students to the various opportunities available to them in the field of aerospace engineering.

Vince Vidaurri, a representative of Teledyne Brown, one of 13 industry partners at the 2017 NASA Days, said the goal for the companies represented is to recruit new employees.

“A lot of us are just kind of here to give information of what we do,” Vidaurri said. “Then also there are some people who are just trying to give opportunities tell people, hey, here’s how you get a job with us, here’s how you get an internship.”

At NASA Days, students found multiple stations representing different aerospace defense companies in Shelby Quad. Most companies present work within the Marshall Space Station in Huntsville. 

Vidaurri described the wide breadth of Teledyne Brown’s employees’ goals.

“The main thing is space systems,” Vidaurri said. “Another subset of us, we work space stations. We work a lot of different positions inside there, whether it’s supporting science or helping doing training so the flight coordinators can do their jobs”

Dan Merenda, the manager of Huntsville Operations for Orbital ATK, described a different, more administrative approach at the Huntsville office of Orbital ATK.

“We’re a resident office,” Merenda said, “so our job is to sit onsite with our NASA customers and serve as kind of the company’s eyes and ears for our group out in Salt Lake City, Utah, where we actually manufacture the solid rocket boosters.”

Merenda said companies are looking for ambitious students.

“Most students are going to be looking for internships and jobs, so bring a resume,” Merenda said. “Be ready to talk to us about where your interests lie, what have you done that is relevant to your degree, and where are you looking to go moving forward.”

Vidaurri echoed this, saying, “Don’t be afraid to actually start talking to someone. Call the phone number on our cards. Actually use your voice. Emails are great, but everyone’s going to send email. If you actually get face-to-face or have communications, it’s helpful.” 

Matthew Culver, a senior majoring in computer science and history, said NASA Days were an exciting time for all engineering students.

“This is the second time the college of engineering has done this,” Culver said. “Both times it’s been a super cool event, to get the engineers and other people on campus excited about space life. You have so many opportunities available to you, with quite a few of these companies taking resumes right now.”

Rachel Delaney, a senior majoring in computer science, also found NASA Days to be useful.

“There’s tons of student groups here, whether part of NASA or not, there’s tons of them out here ready to get students involved,” Delaney said. “It’s a great opportunity to learn, and get a good idea of a project and get some hands on experience.”

NASA Days continue through Friday, Nov. 3 in Shelby Quad and the Ferguson Student Center Theater.

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