Sreya Kumpatla, a senior majoring in aerospace engineering, shares her experience from her 2022 summer internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
This was my second summer as a mechanical engineering intern at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. I served in a mechanical support engineer role for the Mars Sample Return campaign, which includes several missions that seek to return the first ever Martian surface samples back to Earth.
I specifically work on the Earth Return Orbiter (ERO), on the End Effector of the Capture, Containment, and Return System (CCRS). Our team’s End Effector is responsible for capturing the samples Perseverance collects, once the Sample Retrieval Lander (SRL) launches the samples into orbit.
Working on the MSR CCRS End Effector team has given me a glimpse into the realm of incredibly complex mechanisms like never before. Seeing so many detailed subsystems all fitting together into one mechanism is so satisfying, and being able to converse with engineers, new and old, and hear their knowledge and advice has been so valuable to me.
The immersiveness and technical depth of my internship is what made it such a rewarding work experience, and interning at JPL has allowed me to deepen my technical skillset in topics like computer aided design (CAD), harness diagrams, and thermal engineering calculations. Being a JPL intern also allowed me to make so many amazing friends that go to schools across the country.
With this being my second internship, and as I continue to work for the End Effector team remotely and part time for my senior year, I’m also setting myself up in an ideal position for a job offer from JPL. I’m incredibly fortunate to have received this opportunity and can’t wait to see where it takes me. As we say at JPL: Dare Mighty Things!