The Columns

Interns at Work: Levi Warring ’16 NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA

— by on September 5th, 2016

Levi Warring '16

“NASA puts interns to work on projects that impact people everywhere, and I wanted the chance to be a part of that.”

What attracted you to this internship?

NASA interns have a good deal of autonomy when performing research; NASA encourages independent thinking and reasoning on projects. I enjoyed the idea of making decisions about research on my own. Additionally, NASA puts interns to work on projects that impact people everywhere, and I wanted the chance to be a part of that.

How did you learn about it?

I found out about NASA internships online, but found my specific internship at NASA Langley by word of mouth.

What gave you the edge in landing this internship?

I was persistent in contacting different research mentors and employees at NASA about various internship opportunities. I visited NASA Langley the previous year and made contacts with mentors, who I stayed in touch with throughout the application process.

Describe your daily duties.

I worked on several projects for the Durability, Damage Tolerance, and Reliability Branch. My research involved a mix of engineering, mechanics and chemistry. I worked on several projects studying fatigue crack growth. (I’m not allowed to disclose specifics about the projects I worked on).

Did any courses and/or professors help you prepare for this internship?

Inorganic chemistry with Dr. Uffelman was extremely useful. I was able apply many of the concepts from the class in my research. Additionally, all of my upper-level chemistry courses were helpful as they improved my ability to perform extensive literature reviews and write clear and concise research articles.

What did you learn by the end of your experience?

I taught myself how to code Python over the course of the internship, which is a useful program for studying fracture mechanics (although it has hundreds of other applications).

What was your favorite part or perk of the internship?

Boeing invited interns and employees to view and tour a prototype plane (Boeing ecoDemonstrator 757) at NASA Langley. The plane incorporates new green technologies that improve fuel efficiency and reduce noise pollution on aircraft. Many of the advancements were developed by NASA, so it was interesting to note how closely NASA cooperates with private industries.

What did you learn from city where the internship was located?

I lived at home during the internship; however, Hampton is a vital city for the commonwealth and nation — there are a multitude of government agencies and military bases in the city. Many of these agencies cooperate with each other on government projects.

What key takeaways/skills will you bring back to W&L?

Conducting research in a proficient manner and creative thinking in research.

What advice would you give to students interested in a position like this?

Put yourself out there. Always reach out to any employees/mentors who post internship opportunities you are interested in. Displaying interest in the internship (and research topic) goes a long way.

Has this experience influenced your career aspirations? How so?

I have decided to apply for graduate school this fall. I really enjoyed performing research this summer, and want to further my education by obtaining a PhD in physical chemistry and/or material sciences.

Describe your experience in a single word.

Stellar.