Wilmont woman snags NASA internshipWILMONT — Sometimes Ellen Rabenberg checks her e-mail again, just to make sure it’s true.
WILMONT — Sometimes Ellen Rabenberg checks her e-mail again, just to make sure it’s true.
But every time she sifts through her inbox, the letter confirming her acceptance to the summer research program at NASA’s Langley Research Center is still there.
“There were a lot of people interested; I was really lucky,” she said. “I’m working at NASA. I’m not trying to rub it in, but it’s like, yeah, this is pretty awesome.”
Rabenberg, the daughter of Merle and Diane Rabenberg of rural Wilmont, graduated from Boise State University in December with a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering. She became interested in the Langley Aerospace Research Summer Scholars Program after a program representative visited campus last summer.
This summer, she will join three other BSU students and others from across the county in a 10-week, paid internship position at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.
Rabenberg will work in the Advanced Materials and Process Branch, developing thermally fail-safe composites through the manufacture of carbon fiber reinforced polyimide matrix composites with thermal protection additives.
In plain English, “You combine two material properties to form a stronger, better type of material than each of them could be on their own,” she explained, using the example of a concrete wall that is fortified with metal rods.
“I’ll be making these composites and exposing them to some sort of high temperature. … What I’m hoping we’re going to do is break these samples and look at it under a really powerful microscope and see how it fails, and somehow design it so that we can control how it’s going to fail (under high temperatures).”
Rabenberg, who has worked as a research assistant at BSU, said she’s looking forward to being in charge of her own research project this summer and using her degree in the real world.
“Oh look, all this knowledge that I’ve learned is actually being applied somewhere,” she said with a smile.
She will return to Idaho for her master’s degree this fall and hopes to eventually work in a research laboratory for Boeing Co. or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, wherever that may take her.
“I’m used to moving,” she said. “As long as I can get a position I enjoy, I’m ready for a new adventure.”