Briana’s Summer Internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab


20160809_095022Working at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) this summer was a dream come true. I first learned about JPL, the spring semester of my freshman year when the Electrical Flight Systems group supervisor Alejandro Jimenez was looking for students to interview. I had the amazing opportunity to have my first interview with JPL. Even though I didn’t get selected that year I was determined to get better and maintained my connection with Mr. Jimenez by inviting him as guest speaker for the Florida Tech IEEE student branch that I was the president for this last year. One year later from my first interview I was extended an offer to join the Electrical Flight Systems group to work on the Europa Clipper project.

As an electrical engineering student, I had never been exposed to a world of space exploration. The Europa Clipper spacecraft project is traveling to Jupiter’s moon Europa to study for signs of water and potential life. It was overwhelming, but exciting in the first few weeks to understand all the work it takes to bring together a spacecraft like the Europa Clipper. Being an electrical flight system engineering intern, I gained an appreciation for the immense amount of communication it takes to get people from different subsystem groups like Power and Telecommunications and also all the science instrument groups to work together.

At the beginning of my internship my supervisor Alejandro Jimenez told our group of interns to work hard at our individual project tasks, but go out and network as much as we could. I really took this as a personal challenge to learn more about how JPL functions as organizations and hear why people loved to come to work every day. Before my internship, I thought most of the people that worked at JPL had went to elite schools like MIT and Caltech. Throughout my interactions with the employees at JPL I learned about their journeys and was surprised to learn that they’re were not too different from my own story. JPL’s internship program offered many technical presentations, facility tours, and networking opportunities.  I gained an amazing networking mentor Eddie Gonzales who inspired me to believe in myself and to acknowledge that my passion for my work is powerful.  Overall, it was fun getting to learn how so many specialized groups come together to design and build a flight project that is making history.

Written by Briana Cantos, Electrical Engineering, c/o 2018


About Author

Reneé Couperthwaite is the Employer Relations Coordinator for Career Management Services. Her vast knowledge and experience in marketing and corporate event planning has made her a major asset to Florida Institute of Technology. She started with Florida Tech in 2008 at the Women’s Business Center (renamed weVENTURE) and was an integral part of growing the program’s capabilities, outreach, and corporate events. Since starting at the WBC, events such as the Women’s History Month Luncheon, Space Coast Women’s Business Expo, IMPACT Summit, Success Celebration, and numerous smaller networking functions have doubled - and nearly tripled attendance numbers - while exponentially increasing revenues for the SBA grant-funded operation charged with assisted women entrepreneurs. In 2015, she decided to expand her knowledge and skills by teaming up with Career Management Services to help Florida Tech students and alumni reach their potential through career events and networking with employers. She is very driven by the success of others and is enthusiastic about helping people. Reneé earned her Bachelor's degree in Business Administration/Marketing at Florida Institute of Technology in May 2015.

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