NASA, NIST, and Innovation

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Friday, July 27, 2018


Brigette Smith

This past week has probably been the busiest of the summer for me. Sunday evening I came in to OSA early to finish preparing the conference room for Innovation school and set up a table for participants to check in. I was a little stressed out because the name tags came late and I had to put them all in the sleeves but I managed to finish right as the first participants arrived. I wasn’t able to really listen to the talk on Sunday night because I was on door duty but everyone seemed to have enjoyed it. I was sent over to The Mad Hatter a little early to make sure everything was ready for dinner and greet the participants again once they made it to the venue. Dinner was pretty great. I got to speak to some of the people about what they do and why they were interested in attending. The whole time leading up to the school I was expecting the participants to be students or very early career professionals but as it turns out I was speaking with many experienced men and women working for various companies. The next morning I was back at OSA by 7:30 to help set up breakfast for the school. I helped Jen get everything ready and went back to the table to greet participants as they began arriving. After breakfast there was a talk about business models that I sat in on and really enjoyed. I haven’t ever really taken a business class so I learned a lot. The participants then had to come up with a product or service they wanted to pitch and make teams. They were going to work on these over the next few days and present final pitches to a panel of judges at the end. The top three pitches get the offer to continue pursuing the idea and recieve a little funding. I only really helped with lunch after that since the teams were broken up and working on their pitches and I was getting off work before the other talks. The next two days I wasn’t able to attend the school since I was on a tour at NIST and then a tour at NASA.  


I was so excited to go to NIST. I have been using data from NIST in my simulations for two years now so I was super excited to visit the place where they actually find potentials. We met with Jesus’ mentor first thing in the morning and he told us a little about the history of NIST and how they operate under the department of commerce and why it is so important to have standards set. After we left there we visited a lab that had more to do with materials research. I had a total geek moment when the man started telling us about his research and about using the NMR and the science behind it. It was like the last two years at Coe had set me up specifically just to be able to understand this quick talk. I’ve always wanted to work in a lab like that and I was so excited to find I was able to understand the research going on. It gave me this new hunger to keep up with my research and work hard to really learn about the materials. After that we visited an apple tree on the grounds that is a direct descendent from a tree in Newton’s orchard. I thought it was the greatest thing in the world. In the afternoon we visited the nano tech lab which was really neat. I wasn’t as excited since I didn’t know anything about the equipment or what was actually going on with the research. Nonetheless the facility was really nice and impressive.


The next morning I headed to NASA Goddard. Collin and Daniel made it a point to schedule our tour on Wednesday so that we could attend the science jamboree that was happening. It was really a great event. There were tables for all kinds of different NASA projects and demonstrations. My personal favorite was the innovation lab table. I was able to try on some augmented reality goggles that showed the Earth and its magnetosphere from space. I talked with one of the ladies on the outreach team for the innovation lab as well about what they were doing for outreach and got some contact information from her. I tried to talk with as many scientists as I could about their research projects and was really surprised in the diversity of things going on. We got to visit both Collin and Daniel’s labs after and hear a little about what they’ve been doing this summer after which was really neat. Then we went to the visitors center which was just breathtaking. I was really impressed by the space pictures and science sphere.


The last day of innovation school was really intense. I was in charge of breakfast by myself and was at OSA by 7:09 (It’s a new record for me). I was doing all of the running for supplies and any set up that needed to be done. I helped with lunch and the final reception and clean up. I ended up staying until about 6 PM. I was absolutely exhausted after this week but there were a lot of really cool moments. I’m really glad I got to be a part of innovation school.


Brigette Smith