Four Brevard County high school students completed a Northrop Grumman internship this summer, culminating in an awards ceremony in the Florida Tech Digital Scholarship Lab on Friday, Aug. 5.
The four students chosen for the program were Ana Pischinger, Marissa Jordan and Caroline Morales, all seniors from Palm Bay High School, as well as AJ DeSantis, a recent graduate of West Shore Junior/Senior High School.
Northrop Grumman approached Florida Tech about starting the program similar to the one already underway in California, called MESA – Math, Engineering, Science and Achievement. Working with Palm Bay High School and a few other organizations, Northrop was looking for underserved and overachieving 11th– and 12th– grade students who could then continue to work for them as college interns, eventually leading to a full-time position in their field of study.
All the students intend to pursue careers in science or engineering. DeSantis begins his freshman year at Florida Tech in the fall, and felt the internship gave him insight into his chosen field.
“I’ve always loved computing and I’m really into programming,” DeSantis said. “I really enjoyed the experience. It didn’t feel like I was an intern. I felt like an employee.”
The other students have begun their senior year, with big plans for the future. With interests ranging from programming to marine science, they all agreed this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“I learned the importance of networking and how you really need to get involved,” Pischinger said. “Everyone was really supportive and it was a lot of fun. I learned how to get out of my comfort zone, get involved and ask a lot of questions.”
Florida Tech and Northrop Grumman plan to expand the program to other schools and organizations next year, to reach out to more 11th– and 12th-grade STEM students.
“I was very impressed to hear about the high level of work the high school students were doing during their internship,” Shelley Johnson, Director of Development at FIT, said. “They were working with engineering teams on real industry projects.”