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Chris Nagel

Chris Nagel

NASA Mechanical Engineering Co-Op

Major/Minor: Mechanical Engineering
Employer: NASA
Location: Johnson Space Center, Houston TX
Duration: Fall 2011 & Summer 2012
Graduating: May 2013

Personal Story: I found out about the Co-op position after completing a robotics internship with NASA in the spring of 2011. My manager told me to apply for the co-op position.

During the fall of 2011 I was in Houston at the Johnson Space Center working for Mission Operations in Mission Control with the Integration Stowage Officer (ISO). This Co-op was not very technical or engineering related but it was still a really cool experience.

I got a lot of on the job training and one of the coolest parts of the position was getting to sit in Mission Control and talk to the astronauts weekly. It’s really cool knowing my voice could be heard in space. I also worked on testing and troubleshooting software for a storage tracking system.

The summer Co-op position I had was engineering based. During the summer I got to work with the Life Support and Habitability Department where I planned and organized the testing of a new fire extinguisher system in reduced gravity for the International Space Station (ISS).

The best part about this project was being strapped into an anti-gravity simulator and actually firing our fire extinguisher. The purpose of my tests was to figure out what kind of forces were behind the extinguisher and if it would send astronauts flying around the ISS when used.

I also contributed to the research and development of a new smoke filtration system. I tested and analyzed different filters to help NASA get a better understanding of how they work and how to increase the filters’ efficiency.

Technical Challenges:

  • Software: Pro|E, Excel
  • Operating machinery: Drill press, lathe, band saw, CNC mill
  • Technical Communication: Writing reports and giving presentations about my work