|Latest co-op student profiles
The JSC Co-op Program allows college students from around the country to better prepare for their careers by supplementing classroom learning with valuable real-world experience. This extremely competitive program allows about 150 students from more than 40 universities to alternate semesters at school with working at JSC in paid, full-time positions directly related to their field of study. For more information on the program, visit http://coop.jsc.nasa.gov/
Co-op Stephanie Cubellis is fulfilling a lifelong dream at Johnson Space Center.
“I wanted to work at NASA since I was a little child,” she said. “I live with great respect for our space program. NASA’s contributions to this world are endless and thus vital for advancement in science and technology,” said Cubellis, who is wrapping up her third and final semester as a co-op at JSC before returning to Penn State University to finish her bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. Cubellis is a native of New Castle, Pa.
After graduation, she will be joining JSC’s Motion Control Group, which maintains the space station’s orientation as it orbits 230 miles above Earth. She has been well prepared for her career by her co-op tours, during which she helped train astronauts, flight directors and other systems instructors on the motion control system for the International Space Station. She also became a certified instructor for Bird’s Eye View, a 3-D situational awareness training tool.
As a child, Cubellis had aspirations to be an astronaut. With guidance from mentors in the Penn State Women in Engineering Program, Cubellis joined the NASA co-op program.
“I had gone to these women many times with concerns and doubts of my future in engineering,” Cubellis said. “Courses they had offered, as well as their personal advice, had led me to have strong faith in myself as a female in the engineering workforce.”
Her first tour, in the fall of 2004, was in the Systems Integration Group. There, she created a database to track operation readiness testing results on software used by the space station. Another JSC milestone for Cubellis was experiencing of the launch of STS-114 with the rest of the JSC team on July 26.
“My eyes filled with tears. It was at this time that I realized that I was part of an amazing team. It was such an emotional experience for everyone,” Cubellis said.
Cubellis graduated from New Castle Senior High School in 2001. Her parents, Victor and Vicki Cubellis, still reside in New Castle, Pa. In her spare time, she is a pianist, vocalist and does weight training.
While interning for two semesters at JSC, business administration major Lauren Johnson helped purchase components that prepared the shuttle fleet for its return to space.
Born in Los Angeles and raised in Chicago, Johnson joined JSC’s co-op program in the fall of 2004, supporting the Institutional Procurement Office. There, she served as a contract specialist whose responsibilities included purchasing software, hardware and other items essential to the information technology programs at JSC.
In fall 2005, she moved to the Shuttle Procurement Office where she helped award contracts for goods and services essential to the success of the shuttle program.
“Working in procurement is rewarding,” Johnson said. ”It feels great knowing that the work you’re doing has a direct effect on the success of the shuttle program. The responsibility can be intense, but it helps you develop the skills that prepare you for future challenges.”
Johnson initially learned about NASA’s co-op program through the career placement office at Jackson State University in Mississippi. After some encouraging words from the director, she decided to take a chance and made the trip to a NASA-supported two-day career fair held at Texas Southern University.
“I thought the whole trip sounded like a waste of time since I believed NASA only hired scientists,” Johnson said. “After attending the fair, I learned NASA offers many opportunities for students from a variety of majors. As the trip came to an end, I was blessed to receive an interview from the co-op coordinator. Six months later I began my journey as a NASA employee.”
As a co-op, Johnson attended several tours of JSC’s most famous facilities, such as the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility, the space shuttle motion-based simulator and the Neutral Buoyancy Lab.
“The tours provided by the co-op program allowed me to experience NASA from a side few people will ever see,” Johnson said. “Viewing and understanding the contributions performed by other offices around the center really helped me bring the scope of my work full-circle.”
A 2002 Morgan Park High School graduate, Johnson will return to Jackson State University during the spring 2006 semester and will earn her bachelor's in business administration the following December. Afterwards, she plans on attending law school and hopes to return to NASA as a graduate co-op.
Johnson Space Center, Houston