October 2016, “Changed the trajectory of my life” I applied to the Florida Space Grant program in search of funding but what found was so much more.  It gave me the incredible opportunity to participate in a week-long weather balloon project at Cape Canaveral during the summer of 2009. We instrumented the balloon and placed GPS trackers and cameras to record the data.  One of the coolest things was that we got to work with engineers from other universities.  Having the experience of designing, building, testing, and then flying a payload was huge!  It became so much more than just classroom theory.  That type of activity was phenomenal.

The experience with the program was amazing and it dramatically expanded my career options and advanced my professional goals.

After completing my undergrad at FIU, the program director from Florida Space Grant worked to secure funding for an internship at NASA/Langley Research Center.  This internship lead directly to my co-op and then to my current position at Langley and has literally changed the trajectory of my life. I definitely would not be where I am today without the above-and-beyond efforts of the Florida Space Grant.

In my internship at NASA/Langley most of my responsibilities concerned the development of flight projects. For example, we designed a mechanical bearing system for IRVE (Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment) that included construction of a heat shield for spacecraft landings on planetary surfaces.
For the past seven years, I have been an engineer at NASA/Langley and have enjoyed collaborating on a number of interesting flight projects.

Lately, though, I have enjoyed working with the Education office at Langley to help the next generation of engineers successfully enter the workforce. I was especially impressed by how the various Space Grant programs cooperate with each other to really empower the students toward their goals.

My experience in the program has been so incredible that it was very rewarding to be able to pay it forward.


Denisse V. Aranda

NASA Langley Research Center

Engineering Directorate