An Iowa State University computer engineering student has been able to do some things that most professionals don’t get to do during an internship with NASA. Cory Simon, a senior from Winterset, has spent 16 months in spring and summer internships with the space agency. One project Simon worked on was a device worn on the wrist that allows astronauts to talk to several robots.
Simon says NASA has 10 centers around the United States that feature different robots that each speak a different type of computer language. The device he worked on lets the astronaut communicate with all 10 centers. Simon worked with astronauts and others to come up with the device that will be important as the U.S. tries to go back to the moon in 2020. Simon says the neat thing about the device is that the astronaut can use the device while inside their space suit. It allows the astronaut to manipulate the robots or turn on remote cameras.
Simon’s internship work with NASA earned him the first Iowa State University Sesquicentennial "Learning to Live a Life Leadership Award," given earlier this year as part of the school’s birthday celebration. The award is intended to honor students who take advantage of their opportunities at I-S-U and apply them to real life projects. Simon’s internship work also included a rare experience as he helped test and certify a new digital video recorder for space shuttles.
Simon says he got to spend a day on the shuttle Atlantis helping to integrate the new recorder into the ship. "That was a unique experience, I mean there’s even a lot of full-time employees at NASA who haven’t been on the shuttle," Simon says. Work on the camera also got Simon into an area that’s usually reserved for the men and women who fly into space.
Simon says he and two other guys on the project got to go out to the launch pad and aboard the shuttle Discovery, walking the same path that astronauts take when getting ready for a launch. Simon will graduate from Iowa State in December of this year and plans to attend graduate school to earn his master’s degree in computer engineering. After that, he would like to go back to work for NASA and pursue a second master’s degree in systems engineering. He is the son of Rod and Jeri Simon of Winterset.