March 01, 2013

Co-op: Ben Plotner on NASA

Ben Plotner in front of NASA research center

Electrical Engineering major Ben Plotner tells us about his ongoing co-op at NASA in the first of a three-part series

BY BEN PLOTNER, BSEE '14

About three months ago, I received quite a surprising phone call. I was told to pack my bags: I was moving to Florida to work for NASA. Home of the John F. Kennedy Space Center as well as the setting for decades of history of the U.S. space program, I have been proud to call Cape Canaveral, Florida, my home for the past two months. 

As an intern in the Launch Control System project, I have been given the unique privilege and opportunity to work alongside the engineers and technicians whose hard work and dedication have made NASA’s missions possible over the years. Their advice and guidance have been invaluable to me as I continue to work on and learn about my project and its various components.

When I first arrived, the environment of NASA was a lot to take in. All of the history and technological monuments that surrounded me were captivating to say the least. In addition to that, I have come to realize that NASA refers to nearly everything as acronyms, which can get a little confusing. It’s almost as if they speak an entirely different language. In fact, I have an entire dictionary containing just NASA acronyms and their meanings. It took me a little while, but I can now confidently say that I can speak fluent NASA!

The project I am working on, the Launch Control System, is currently working to develop and upgrade the various hardware and software associated with the control and monitoring of the launch of next generation spacecraft. I aid in the installation and configuration of networking equipment and servers as well as implement and virtualize the software that will be utilized on them. Additionally, I am working on another project that aims to construct and program a satellite that will be used to transmit and record rocket telemetry data.

What I love most about my job is the work environment. All of my coworkers and supervisors are very welcoming and helpful. They are always more than willing to offer advice or answer a question.  All of us are really one big family.  I have learned so much over the past two months and I am continuing to learn every day. I absolutely love my job and am grateful for being presented with this opportunity.     

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