Week 4: Outreach, Organization, and OAM

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Sunday, June 27, 2021


Casey Roepke

It’s hard to believe that four weeks have already passed since I began the SPS summer internship! There has been so much learning and growth already, and I’m excited to see what other experiences are in store for me as we enter the second half of the internship!

I hit the ground running on Monday with the communications project I’ve been working on with Zara, our office’s Communications Director. After selecting quality quotes from the interview I conducted with Dr. Roth, I wrote a draft of a “lead-in” for the article — essentially an introduction into the context of the article’s topic, along with a few quotes to highlight the importance of the topic. At Mount Holyoke, I minored in journalism and wrote articles for the campus newspaper, but this kind of feature writing is new to me. It definitely took more effort to emulate the style of other internal NIST publications, and luckily Zara gave me a lot of really helpful feedback that I am incorporating into my second draft.

After choosing my first long-term project last week, I began the brainstorming portion of my work. I’m hoping to develop an outreach and engagement strategy for Manufacturing Day specifically aimed at K-12+ students. As part of my brainstorming and initial research, I seized the opportunity to reach out to Noah, the SPS SOCK intern! Noah is great, and I’ve really enjoyed his blog posts so far about creating engaging content and physics demos for students. I thought it would be a good idea to learn about which outreach strategies work best for different age groups — and, selfishly, I wanted to learn more about his internship! We had a fun conversation about science demonstrations and engagement strategies, and I came away from that meeting with a lot of ideas to try for my project. Thanks, Noah!

Every Tuesday and Thursday, the Office of Advanced Manufacturing (OAM) holds all-staff meetings, normally to go over updates from our directors or to focus on special topics. This week, our OAM meetings ran long to discuss my analysis of the U.S. ICA legislation and to strategize potential collaborations between Manufacturing USA and other partners mentioned in the bill. I have to admit, it was a bit scary to be considered the “expert” (in significant air quotes) on this bill, but because I spent so much time reading through it, I enjoyed joining the conversation about interpretations of the bill. Reading legislation is definitely an important skill, but interpreting that legislation is just as important. 

After looking at my U.S. ICA analysis, some other members of the office were concerned about the exact phrasing of two sections of the bill. We ended up brainstorming revisions and additions to those sections that clarified the intentions of the bill. Who knew that the inclusion of one or two words could potentially make a difference for huge financial appropriations? It was exciting to actually suggest changes to an existing piece of legislation, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that those revisions are incorporated into the bill. 

On Friday, the SPS intern cohort had the opportunity to meet Dr. John Mather, the Nobel Prize in Physics laureate, brilliant astrophysicist, and the sponsor of my science policy internship! My AIP Mather Public Policy Internship is funded through the John and Jane Mather Foundation for Science and the Arts, which is funded by Dr. Mather’s Nobel award. I was so excited to finally meet Dr. Mather and thank him for this incredible opportunity to learn more about the intersection between science and government. He gave a stimulating lecture about cosmic instability, and was eager to answer our questions about his NASA project and other aspects of cosmology. 

Towards the end of the week, after watching a great informational webinar by my mentor — go Lisa! — I tried to get organized for the upcoming week. Because I’ve been working on a larger project at the same time as more urgent projects surrounding U.S. ICA and other policy analysis, I’ve had to really focus on my organizational skills to stay on task and manage my time efficiently and effectively. Remote work is still challenging, but I’m starting to really fall into a rhythm.

Looking forward to July! 


Casey Roepke (she/her)