Kurt’s First NASA Internship Term Report: Spring 1991

Today, January 7th 2024, marks exactly 33 years of my working for NASA. I recently found the below 2-page, single-spaced report that I wrote at the end of my first internship semester, Spring of 1991. Who remembers dot matrix printers?!?

My first internship term was a pretty good start to my NASA career I think. It’s been a crazy 33 year ride so far with no end in sight just yet. I’ve still got a few more years in me, I think!

Thanks for your interest!


Search Engine Section

Feel free to ignore the below section. I’m just repeating the report below in plain text for the benefit of search engines.

Kurt W. Leucht
Electrical Engineering
University of Missouri-Rolla
Failure Analysis & Materials Evaluation (FAME) Branch of the Materials Science Laboratories (MSL)
Branch Chief: Irby Moore
Electronics/Metrology Section 
Section Chief: Gary Bassett
starting wages: $6.98/hr.	ending wages: $7.28/hr.
total earnings: $6650.00	approximate savings: $2500.00
duty hours: 7:00 to 3:30
forwarding address:

Irby Moore
     I was assigned to the Failure Analysis & Materials Evaluation (FAME) branch and worked primarily in the Electronics and Metrology Laboratory since my major is electrical engineering. My principal duties included working with the electrical engineers on failure investigations and managing the video area or Real-Time Documentation Laboratory, which is an integral part of the FAME branch. During my first term I became proficient in the area of television and video technology. The video area in the Electronics and Metrology laboratory is basically a small television studio where it's possible to produce and edit presentations about critical failure investigations. The requester of the investigation can then take this presentation to his/her upper-level management to show them the status of the investigation. It also gives them something to work with while they're waiting for the report from the lab to be published. It's known that a picture is worth a thousand words. In our case, a video is worth a thousand pictures. There are many cases where a stack of pictures can't tell the same story as a short video presentation, so video has become an important part of our failure investigations.
     The video area is also used to generate instant high-resolution photographs from a live camera, a video tape, or our computer generated video. Since these photos can be placed directly into our reports, this capability is used extensively in the laboratory. In my first few months here, I became an expert on photo-documentation from video. I learned about photography and good lighting techniques. I mastered the professional-quality digital camera and the lenses and accessories that go with it. I also became skillful in the use of the computer system that manipulates video images.
     Among my secondary duties was the calibration and maintenance of the video area and all of it's equipment. I've become well-practiced in the area of state-of-the-art digital oscilloscopes and television waveform analyzers/vectorscopes. I did some research into the theory of operation and the testing and calibration of the video equipment before I could understand enough to try troubleshooting problems. I wrote a procedure for the general calibration of the video area so that anyone not completely familiar with every piece of equipment could follow specific instructions and get everything working properly. The procedure was written in a way that was meant to help the person understand how the video system works. I've also been working on a manual to show someone who knows absolutely nothing about the video area how to use the basic functions of most of the equipment in the lab. This will give everyone in the branch the ability to use the video lab.
     By working in other sections of the branch, I've had many chances to work with engineers and technicians from other fields. On several occasions I've gone to the launch pads or to the Orbiter Processing Facilities with the engineers from the Metallurgy Section and helped them take hardness readings on different metal surfaces as part of a failure investigation. In the Mechanical Section I've helped the engineers set up x-ray experiments and film them for future use. In the Physical Testing Section, I've learned how to use the tensile/compression machines and the vacuum chamber. For KSC's Open House, I produced a professional-quality video presentation about the Physical Testing Section's vibration laboratory. Also for Open House, I performed a demonstration on cryogenics and superconductivity throughout the day. In the Electronics and Metrology Section I've done a lot more than just taken pictures. During failure investigations I made electrical test setups from schematics, ran the tests, and helped analyze the data. I've made numerous video presentations for the engineers and requesters of the investigations. I also initiated a system between the lab and the Press Site for obtaining multiple copies of videos for distribution and obtaining high quality scenes of KSC activities for insertion in our productions. I've sent video presentations that were made in the lab over satellites to other centers through the Video Teleconferencing System in the Headquarters Building. I've begun organizing the stock ordering system in the lab and have ordered supplies as needed. I also help write PR's [purchase requests] and SR's [support requests] and have even 'walked through' important PR's
     I have always been interested in space exploration and I've always wanted to work for NASA so that I could be a part of that exploration. In high school, I painted a mural of the space shuttle on the wall of the library. Now that I'm officially a civil servant, although the pay isn't spectacular, it's great to be able to feel like I'm a part of the space program and that I can truly make a difference. While I was here I witnessed two launches from the Vehicle Assembly Building area. I was able to go to the launch pad one morning to watch Discovery being rolled up the ramp to the pad and I even got my picture taken in front of it. I was fortunate enough to get out to the Shuttle Landing Facility and see Discovery land here and I also saw Endeavor fly in atop the new 747 shuttle-craft.
     My experiences here at KSC have helped me gain more understanding of my major field of study. Since most students choose their major during their freshman year, it's often hard for them to understand what's ahead of them. But since I've experienced first-hand what's in my future, I have a choice that most students don't have the chance to make. I have the option to change my major if the work here isn't what I thought it might be. And if I were to choose not to work for NASA, I could take my experience to another employer after I graduate and be a step above the other graduates. If I were to graduate today though, I'd take a job right here in the FAME branch. Being an engineer here in the labs is unique in the fact that it's completely a hands-on experience, not a desk job or a job of looking over a technician's shoulder while they do all the work. That's probably what I like most about the FAME labs. I'm a little excited to get back to school, but I can't wait to come back to KSC and get back to work!

The Case Of The Magically Appearing Fish Scale

Yesterday afternoon I was driving along a rural Florida highway just minding my own business when a single solitary fish scale appeared on my windshield.

I’m no detective, but curiosity got the better of me. Where did this fish scale come from? And how did it get on my windshield?

So I quickly I pulled over to investigate. I walked along the highway looking for clues.

All I found was a small mess of unidentifiable carcass lying on the road. It was fairly mangled, but I could clearly make out a few fish parts. Like fins. And tail. And meat.

So I quickly deduced that the fish scale which had suddenly appeared on my windshield had somehow come from this mangled mess of fish carcass.

But how?

And why?

I was at a complete loss.

Maybe you can help me solve this strange and complex mystery.

Below are some photos of the fish scale as it appeared on my windshield.

Now that I think about it, I did notice a big bald eagle launch out of a tall tree and fly overhead while I was walking back to my car after finding that mangled fish carcass.

Again, I’m no detective. But all clues seem to point to the following:

One, that this big bald eagle hates me.

And two, that he’s a really good shot!

Thanks for your interest!

Follow me for even more crack investigative work!


We made a podcast!

So this is something that I’ve been kind of thinking about for a few years now. What if I made a podcast? What would I talk about? Would anybody listen?

Well, my friends and I actually did it. I present to you the Dumb Stuff Podcast!

What is it?

This podcast is essentially a lightly edited audio recording of a weekly Zoom meeting between myself and several high school friends. We’re separated by several thousand miles but now we’re brought back together thanks to a global pandemic quarantine and a regular online meeting.

So what do we talk about on our podcast? Well, anything and everything! Whatever is on our minds!

Is it entertaining? Well, we can guarantee that this podcast is more fun than a hot poker in the eye! And we’ll even give you your money back if you’re not 100% completely satisfied!

100 plays!

We’ve been publishing our podcast for a month now and we’ve just hit 100 total plays, which we think is amazing! It’s not a huge number, but come on … we’re just talking about dumb stuff. We didn’t actually expect thousands of listeners or millions of plays!

5 stars on Apple Podcasts!

We’ve got a perfect 5 star review on Apple Podcasts right now! Sure it’s from only 2 reviewers, but we’ll take what we can get!

Anyways, listen if you want. No pressure.

Thanks for your interest,


Custom Size & Shape Standing Desk

Like many of you, I’ve been working mostly from home for over 9 months now. And, like many of you, I’ve tried performing my daily work routine from a few different locations in my home. Seeking out the perfect spot for efficiency and for productivity. But also needing to be able to step away from work at the end of the day.

Right now I’m set up in our guest room which may not be the best work location in the house but it definitely lets me step away and forget about work at the end of the workday.

One thing that made our guest room not ideal for working was the desk situation. But I think I’ve fixed the problem.

I started with a base desk which is just a 6 foot plastic folding table. But I really wanted a standing desk for good posture and for back strength. One option would be to raise the table itself to the correct height for standing rather than sitting.

Putting the table legs up on blocks of some sort would accomplish that goal fairly easily and inexpensively. But it would also keep me from sitting which I would probably want to do occasionally. So what other options are there other than buying one of those really expensive motorized adjustable standing desks?

It occurred to me that the entire surface didn’t need to be at standing height. Just the part of the tabletop that holds the laptop, keyboard, mouse, and 2nd monitor. So I grabbed some cardboard and I started measuring and cutting out a template.

Here’s what I came up with:

Then I went out to my shop and made this new tabletop out of some scrap wood that’s been out there collecting dust for years.

At first I wasn’t sure how to hold up this new tabletop above the base plastic table. So I just temporarily used some old milk crates and some scrap 2x4s to get it to the exact height that would fit my elbows and eyeballs. This temporary configuration allowed me to try it out and make sure the height was correct before committing.

Essentially I had created a desk with different levels for different uses. On the right side is where I stand and do most of my daily work. But the notched area on the left side is where I can sit down at the table and read or write or think or whatever.

After a few months of working in this temporary configuration, I bought some solid inch square stair rail balusters which are the vertical pieces of the stair rail sometimes called spindles. I cut them to the exact length I needed and just screwed them to my custom tabletop.

I also made a smaller tabletop for my laptop and docking station and I used the same balusters as legs, which takes up less room than the little wooden lap desk that I was using before. Just need to paint the plywood surfaces and it will be complete!

An unplanned by-product of this multi-level desk design is that I ended up with some decent storage space between the levels. There’s actually enough space down there to organize and store folders and papers and books and stuff like that.

I’m really happy with this design and I’m even more happy about how inexpensive it was to build!

If you have any more ideas or suggestions, please leave a comment below!

Thanks for your interest!


The Right Stuff TV series on Disney+

Did you catch the new 8 episode streaming historical drama series The Right Stuff on Disney+? It premiered on October 9th, 2020 to a bit of fanfare.

From the Disney+ website:

The incredible story of the early days of the U.S. space program, based on the iconic bestseller by Tom Wolfe.

This series is highly fictionalized and dramatized and doesn’t follow the book perfectly. And that’s okay. It’s getting some heat from reviewers in this vein, but I think everyone should just calm down and realize that there was no point in copying the 1983 movie in this new series. This series is not an exact historical account. And who cares? The movie wasn’t either.

If you’re on the fence, this behind the scenes trailer might help get you pumped up for it:

And here’s the official trailer:

Besides being sort of a space nerd myself, the other thing that got me interested in following the production of this new series is that most of it was filmed right in my back yard. Several scenes were filmed on Florida’s Space Coast. And most of the rest was filmed on a soundstage at Universal Studios, Orlando. Additionally there were a few scenes that were filmed in downtown Orlando, Lakeland, and Tampa.

The most amazing thing about this series filming locally is that I had the amazing opportunity to be cast as an extra in several scenes of several episodes. See if you can spot me! Just remember, long haired and bearded hippies weren’t really a big part of the early space program, so imagine me without any facial hair. Type your guesses (episode number and time hack) below in the comments!

Thanks for your interest!


Thanks for visiting,
Kurt & Sam Leucht
Titusville, FL
Email Us or Give Feedback!
(Report a Problem, Request a Feature)