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Internship—A pathway to employment By Valerie Wiesner I was fortunate to be selected to participate in the Pathways Intern Employment Program at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, during my last year of graduate school at Purdue University. The Pathways Program gave me the opportunity to work at a NASA research center as a co-op student and explore a career in the federal government prior to graduation. Throughout my four-month co-op at NASA Glenn, I worked directly with researchers and technologists on a variety of projects focusing on the development of ceramic materials for aerospace applications. The experience gave me the chance to learn from leading experts in the field and the opportunity to work on new and challenging topics in a collaborative research environment. This allowed me to grow and develop as an independent researcher and apply what I had learned throughout my Ph.D. to tackle current engineering problems. Additionally, I was able to access an extensive collection of knowledge and expertise within NASA by consulting with experienced scientists about my doctoral research. Outside of research, I was able to pursue another interest of mine while at NASA Glenn—sharing science and engineering with youth. I participated in outreach events in the greater Cleveland community with the NASA Glenn Education Office. By working with STEM education specialists, I learned about large-scale educational programming and discovered new STEM activities, which I shared with others upon returning to Purdue. I also had the opportunity to tour NASA Glenn and Plum Brook Station (Sandusky, Ohio) to see unique facilities ranging from the Zero Gravity Research Facility to the Reverberant Acoustic Test Facility. Furthermore, through panel discussions, presentations, and even a teleconference with the astronaut selection committee, I acquired greater insight into NASA, its missions, and career opportunities within the agency. Overall, in addition to the valuable research and professional experience, the Pathways Program gave me a better understanding of what a career at NASA was like. The dedicated team, exciting research, and great working environment that I encountered during my co-op inspired me to pursue fulltime employment within the agency, which ultimately led to my current position as a materials research engineer at NASA Glenn. I feel very lucky to have landed my dream job so early in my career. The Pathways Program provides students and young researchers like me the unique opportunity to start their careers in a government agency. Valerie Wiesner is a materials research engineer in the Materials and Structures Division at NASA Glenn Research Valerie Wiesner having fun at a NASA outreach event in Cleveland, Ohio. Center in Cleveland, Ohio. She is a recent graduate of Purdue University, where she earned her Ph.D. in materials engineering with a focus on structural ceramics. n Lessons from a study abroad By Omar Cedillos Barraza Arriving in a completely different country with just a piece of luggage on each hand is not an easy task. I travelled from Mexico to study at Imperial College Barraza London for my Ph.D. From the start, I realized that I was working in an international and multicultural environment— in 2014, students from 129 nationalities registered at Imperial College London. Being abroad is about getting out of your comfort zone, learning new experiences, learning to live in a different way, and getting the best from each culture. Being at an international university has the advantage of great relations and networking links with other universities, research centers, and industries. I am researching ultra-hightemperature ceramics in a research group formed by various universities, national labs, and industries, a collaboration that encourages engagement and integration in research. Multidisciplinary research groups are valuable because they teach individuals how to solve problems in different ways. The high mobility of people at international universities also promotes the exchange of knowledge and ideas, enhancing quality and innovation in research. Teaching opportunities, in undergraduate courses and outreach activities, also have enriched my experience abroad. Because the teaching system is different from what I knew, I have learned how to adapt to various working environments and teaching systems. In addition, outreach activities have shown me that I can make a difference to children by building early interest in science through exciting and interesting materials. London is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, with more than 300 languages spoken and something different to learn, visit, and even eat daily. Studying abroad has been one of the great experiences in my life. Omar Cedillos Barraza is a Ph.D. candidate in the Centre for Advanced Structural Ceramics at Imperial College London. He has served on the PCSA Recruiting and Communications Committees for the past two years. n American Ceramic Society Bulletin, Vol. 93, No. 5 | www.ceramics.org 29 Credit: V. Wiesner


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