Dream Internship Series: Sharon Snyder
ONU Engineer Hopes NASA Internship will ‘Launch’ her Career
Ever since her father gave her a poster of Buzz Aldrin walking on the moon, Sharon Snyder has dreamed of becoming an astronaut. The senior mechanical engineering major may not be in the space shuttle, but Snyder’s summer internship brought her one step closer to her dream job.
Snyder, who hails from Lancaster, Ohio, worked in the Turbo Machinery and Heat Transfer branch of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.
“For 10 weeks, I was paid to be a science nerd,” Snyder remarks. “Glenn is involved with aero propulsion, jet engines and engine cooling, so my job was very hands-on: experiments, testing, wind tunnels, liquid crystals and the latest software programs. I loved it.”
Snyder was one of 120 interns chosen through the NASA and Ohio Aerospace Institute. “I actually applied to the program in my freshman year, but didn’t get in. In a way, that inspired me to try even harder,” she says.
To bolster her résumé, she spent last summer working for the University of Minneapolis-Minnesota. However, the NASA opportunity was always in the back of her mind.
“When I got in, I was thrilled and very nervous,” she says. “I frantically tried to remember everything I’d learned in class.”
Her summer felt like an engineering class come to life. “I took Heat Transfer and Fluid Mechanics last year, so I had a basic understanding of these concepts, but to actually apply them was great. Plus, I worked with one of the software programs that I’ll use this year in class.”
To ease her into the job, Snyder was assigned two mentors who she says were great about showing her the ropes and then giving her real responsibility.
Her mentors weren’t the only ones helping her succeed. Glenn is a hotbed of Northern graduates like Jennifer Jordan, BSEE ’05, Kathryn Shaw, BSME ’06, and David Chelmins, BSCPE ’08. Seeing others from the same background made Snyder feel confident about her job possibilities after graduation.
“Everyone dreams of going to space, but, realistically, only a handful of people can do that. Engineering is the next best option,” explains Snyder, who hopes to return to NASA next summer and, eventually, secure a job there following graduate school.
“I’ve always known this is where I want to work, and I put myself into this internship wholeheartedly,” she says. “I’m amazed by what NASA has accomplished – the missions to Mars, walking on the moon – all these things are powered by brainpower and creativity, and I got to work there. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”
By Autumn Steiner
Senior, Professional Writing major