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!

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