Monday June 25, 2012
The Academites all awoke to the new week coming ahead of them: the fantastic California Trip! Whenever the group tires to figure out the ride situation in the mornings, it seems like everyone wants to get into Macie’s car. Maybe there’s a magnetic field attraction indeed. After sorting everyone into the vehicles, the Aeronauts drove to NASA Glenn as usual that morning. During the afternoon, there was a an informational session with the Code R Senior Management for approximately two hours. Each division within Code R was represented by its Division Chief. The Academites got information on various functional groups within NASA Glenn
S Code R as well as its future ventures with new technology. The session was concluded by a group photo of all the interns with the Code R Senior Management. Macie and Taichi met to sort out the midterm presentation for the following week (so that they wouldn’t have to worry while traveling in California later during the week). It was assumed that others had done the same. After work, the group gathered for their RAP session which lasted until 6 pm led by Harkirat Sohi, discussing about the travel arrangements and the logistics of the upcoming California trip. That night, the Academites frantically packed their luggage.
Tuesday June 26, 2012 (Ohio)
The Academites woke up but with some excitement as well as anticipation. It was by word of mouth that several slept for only a few hours (Melanie, Harkirat, and don’t remember the rest). Since the group was not going back to the hotel, all the luggage for the California trip had to be loaded into the vehicles before going to work. The day at work went pretty much as usual, mostly midterm presentation preparation. This was a short day in terms of working due to the impeding flight at 3:30 pm for the group’s amazing California Adventure (the levels of amazingness varied depending on the academite to academite). For team VIPR, the work day was even shorter thanks to a fellow intern who brought ice cream from the Penn State Creamery. Team VIPR’s work room turned into an ice cream social as many from the building came in and enjoyed a variety of flavors, the most popular being Death By Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cup. At 2:50 pm everyone met at the Glenn Hanger to pile into some short buses for transport to the airport
Upon arriving at the airport, Taichi found out that he had some shaving cream in his suitcase, so he had to check-in the bag along with Heath Reising. Everyone from the Space and Aero Academies put their liquids in his bag. It sure was an adventure being screened at the airport. Daniel Remine almost lost his NASA ID badge, so Harkirat and Taichi waited until he found his NASA ID deep down into his bag. The three ran into two Space Academy students: Spencer and Kirsti who were looking to buy pizza. The security check seemed like the most exciting portion of the day to some who were able to use their NASA badges as government issued ID. After the full body scans and some “suspicious cargo”, which included melded gummy worms and a dirty flashlight, everyone boarded the plane on time.
On the flight to Chicago, the plane flew over Indiana (lots of farm lands there). Taichi and Nathaniel sat by each other & discussed various design projects they have done at their respective schools. The Glenn Aeronautics and Space Academies basically had ½ of the aircraft in laughter as we moved along the terminal to our next aircraft. Taichi joined Spencer and Kristi from the Space Academy to purchase McDonald’s for their dinners. While the Space and Aeronautics Academies were waiting in St. Louis for people to board, most of the Academy group got a tour of the cockpit of the 737. Or rather a photo shot. The tour consisted of asking some random questions about one button or another and sitting in the pilot/co-pilot seats. That made for an awesome picture. So awesome that Dan declared it would be his new facebook profile picture (This wasn’t the only time this week he said that.) Nothing is official until its facebooked. When Jacob had his turn at the cockpit, he inquired about a few coloring books for the artistically talented in the group. Plenty of thanks was given as the pilot proceeded to request 25 or so coloring books from the airport to be passed around to the very excited interns. Afterwards, the group soared again into the beautiful sky towards the western sunset. The rest was history.
By the time the group arrived in L.A. and retrieved their vans it was already 11 pm. Each van went a different route. Some went straight to In ‘n Out to fill their grumbling stomachs. Another went to the hotel and then decided to completely forgo eating. The last van had Dr. Kankam in it, who was dropped off at his hotel. However, it was soon realized that Dr. Kankam really didn’t have a room as previously reserved, resulting in Macie, Gina, Harkirat, and Molly sharing one room at the Hamilton. Questions about how four ladies got ready using only ONE bathroom were asked. It wasn’t until after 2 am that the last academite went to bed.
Wednesday June 27, 2012
It seems like most Academites had only four to five hours of sleep maximum. The Academites awoke to the wonderful continental breakfast served at the Hampton Inn. The group was to tour Scaled Composites and NASA Dryden Center that day. Once the Acadmites arrived at Scaled Composites around 8 am, they congregated into a “racquetball” room where all of the upper management presented more information about the company. The Acadmies were then split into three groups to tour the innovative aircrafts that Scaled Composites had manufactured. It was quite intriguing how this company utilized raw materials as well as components used in the past to build these aircrafts. Dr. Kankam had asked numerous questions about its sleek aircraft design to the lead tour guide. In the meantime, the Glenn Aero Academites met and mingled with other NASA Academy interns from Ames, Langley, as well as Dryden. One of the Academy members at the end of the tour asked the Vice President of Engineering: “Approximately how much percentage of your workforce consists of women?” As an audience, we could all tell that the VP had an onerous time trying to answer that particular question and went: “Hmmm…… I think…… five percent??” Some interns did not seem to be impressed by the answer. Some Academites pondered if Scaled Composites did enough recruiting efforts to include a diverse population. Taichi mentioned that he had not seen Scaled Composites recruit at U.C.L.A. and University of Southern California, the local schools he was familiar with.
The group then took off for NASA’s Dryden Flight Center around 11:30 in the morning. Upon arrival, it was found that one of the speakers had been canceled, so the group had to loiter around for another hour and a half. The surrounding environment was extremely dry and hot that everyone just gulped down water.
The Dryden tour began with a visit to the hanger with the private jet style plane and then viewed the flight test area in the far distance. Afterwards, the group huddled in the small dimensional space of shade available to escape the 150% sun-rays that were coming down to listen to one of the directors talk about past NASA aircrafts and their successful histories. Taichi ran into a Co-Op (Kirsten) who had worked on the X-48C collaborative project with The Boeing Company and NASA. She described the project’s mission whic was to create innovative aircraft wing design utilized for military and commercial applications. Although the military really liked this design, the commercial aircraft industries didn’t. While heading back to the hotel, everyone in Harkirat’s van (Spencer, Kristi, Kathleen, Melanie, Taichi, Brian) all fell asleep as if there was no tomorrow! Rumors spread that an Academy social was supposed to happen, but did not occur due to a lack of response form the Ames’ Operations & Logistics Manager who had initially taken responsibility for organizing the event.
Daniel Remine, Dan Kakaley, Nathaniel Morris, Melanie, Macie, Gina, Reed, Jacob, Steve, Samira, and Taichi were at the pool playing marco polo. Steve almost threw Gina into the pool, but didn’t happen because Gina did not want to have to take the shower before dinner.
Some hours later, the group ate at El Totoro’s Mexican Restaurant eating delicious Mexican dish. The portions were so huge that most people couldn’t even finish!! The group laughed over sweet potatoes and other random discussions that were coming the group’s way.
This night, the Academites were to sleep much better than the previous night. Farewell June 27th!
Thursday June 28, 2012
The academies checked out of the hotel at 6 am, all blurry-eyed and sluggish. The first trip for the Glenn Academies was General Atomics (GA), all thanks to the Space Academy Staffer, Molly Townsend who had asked her father, an employee of GA to set up the tour. Everyone arrived at GA on time, even though 2 out of 3 of the vans took wrong turns. After yet another badging (none of which we were able to keep) we were taken into a conference room. Molly’s dad Bill was a nice sort of fellow and would answer most questions with “yes,” whether they were yes/no questions or not. It was code word for “Classified.” He also went on a small side topic about how Scaled Composites likes to mess things up and waste a ton of money. However, most of the Academites still considered Scaled Composites as the best tour up to that point and did not put much stock into it. Overall, Bill was a funny guy who was nice enough to set up a last minute tour for the Academy. So kudos to him.
GA works mostly with UAVs and their tour consisted of going through the various methods of the building process. The tour guide, Christian, frequently asked pop quiz questions that he often asks during interviews. Only one was answered completely and another answered partially. Some just didn’t speak up when they had the right answer. It might be good for anyone that is applying to review various airplane concepts before applying. The tour was great and many handed in their resumes in the hope of being remembered when they apply in the future.
It was about the time that the group needed to head off for Long Beach that Harkirat realized that she had left her wallet at the hotel in Palmdale. While two of the vans went ahead to Long Beach, Harkirat’s van went back to Palmdale to retrieve the missing wallet. It was at this time Taichi volunteered to drive and did fairly well, though roundabouts are somewhat of a mystery to him. Once the wallet was secured and cramped interns were piled back into the cars, Harkirat took off for Long Beach to meet up with the rest of the group. The detour to Palmdale was just enough to almost make us really late for the tour. But thanks for Harkirat’s slightly heavy foot, we were able to get through bumper to bumper traffic on the 405 and arrive only 10 minutes late to the tour. The other two vans were able to check into the Marriot hotel to pass the time until the tour. In the case of Macie and Samira, they decided to check out all the nooks and crannies of the hotel room.
The tour at the Boeing C17 facility in Long Beach was very interesting for most. After the presentation the academies were escorted around the factory floor. The first thing they were able to see was a C17 only 20 days from completion. On top of that they were also able to walk through the aircraft and while the tour guides explained some highlights. Team VIPR was able to diverge from the rest of the group and they were shown the Pratt and Whitney engine that was the same type as the one they got their project data from. The rest of the tour consisted of looking at the fuselage and wing assembly processes. The group headed over to their nice hotel, Long Beach Mariott after the Boeing C-17 tour and spent the evening having dinner at a local Italian restaurant owned by actual Italian people. After dinner, most Academites spent some time in the hotel’s pool before going to bed.
Friday June 29, 2012
Once again the Glenn Academies were awake at an early hour and checking out of the hotel. The tour at the second Boeing facility consisted mostly of PowerPoint presentations with a short trip to the composites lab. After a quick jaunt through what appeared to be Tijuana, the group toured SpaceX and experienced firsthand the exciting work environment there. A note should be made here that Elon Musk has done very well for himself, as evidenced by the Iron Man statue that was signed by Scarlett Johansson in a very interesting location. The group then got their first view of downtown on the way out to JPL in the hills east of L.A. After seeing one of the highlights of the whole trip, the twin of the Opportunity rover, Melanie, Taichi, and Samira separated from the group to stay for the next day (Saturday) with friends and family and certainly get more sleep than the rest of the group.
After a trip to the airport and an exchange of rental vehicles, the group reached Santa Monica and had a quick dinner. Most of the Academites spent the night at a hostel in Santa Monica. Harkirat stayed at a friend’s place overnight in Santa Monica.
Saturday June 30, 2012
3 AM: In some sort of ancient space academy ritual passed down from their academy forefathers, Jacob and Nate decided to wake Heath by shining lights in his face and screaming obscenities at him for apparently being in beds they had “claimed”. Reed went foraging for blankets and Heath and Steve were relocated to the floor without a fight. It turns out that there was actually another room assigned to the Academy students which had empty beds in it, but no one complained. Any morning one wakes up in a hostel still in possession of both kidneys is a good morning indeed.
A slightly emasculating breakfast was consumed at Cafe Crepe and several members of the academies headed to the beach. After some solid Frisbee tossing and acquiring of future skin cancer, the group split for lunch. Nathaniel, Steve, Dennis, Macie, Gina, Dan and Heath decided that they wanted to ensure the success of the Yankee Doodle restaurant by returning for a third time. The food was good and several of the group headed to see the new Seth MacFarlane movie, Ted, while the rest went to explore the shops of Santa Monica.
The next few hours were spent pacing the streets of Santa Monica hippie-watching (which is rumored to be a candidate sport to be added for the 2016 Olympics) and slowly noticing how much our sunscreen had been underused. Meanwhile, Daniel, Dan, Kathleen, and Reed saw Moonrise Kingdom, which Reed classified as a “hipster humor”. Steve, Dennis, Nate, and Heath were greeted as VIPs at Yankee Doodle as the last few cents in their stipend were spent on burgers. Reed, Dan, Macie, and assorted space kids found a fire pit south of the Pier and occupied their evening there. Nathaniel, Dennis, Steve, and Heath were walking down the street when they saw some of the most magic words one can find when bored on a Saturday evening: “karaoke bar”. Within a half hour, several country songs had been sung and the Academites felt more like they were back in the good old USA. On the walk to the pier to meet with the rest of the group, they saw the following: random guy in shirt and tire doing handstands, couple pulled over ballroom dancing to their radio on the sidewalk, and two Hispanic gentleman in a disagreement that surely would have ended with someone being slapped with a skateboard if cooler heads had not prevailed.
Sunday July 1, 2012
The Academites left at around 3:30 am to head out to the LAX airport to catch their 6:30 am flight to Chicago. Upon arrival in Chicago, the flight to Cleveland was delayed for a total of 7 hours due to a severe storm in Chicago. The Academites finally made it back to Cleveland late that night, ready to go back to work the next morning.