Name: Ingie Baho
Major: Mechanical engineering
Home country: Syria
Year: Class of 2021
My internship was at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). JPL is a NASA owned institution, which is managed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
I applied through an online portal, which is managed by JPL. Simultaneously, I did some personal research and read about an engineer who worked on some projects of interest to me, and who also happens to be from my hometown from Syria. I reached out to him detailing my interest in the kind of work he does at JPL as well as my motives in applying for the internship. The email correspondence continued, and I took it upon myself to share my resume with him and talk to him about some projects I have worked on.
Eventually, I received an official offer letter from JPL detailing the project I will be working on as well as who I will be working with.
I was working on an interesting, interdisciplinary project in which the goal is to model and simulate what is termed an ‘antenna tree’. The goal of the project is to harness the conductivity and dielectric properties of a living, organic tree and augment it such that it pre-forms as an antenna, which can communicate with a CubeSat in low orbit. Ultimately, the antenna tree would need to meet certain performance requirements in terms of the frequency, bandwidth, gain, and radiation pattern.
Every day, I dealt with different challenges. On a daily basis, I would typically work with the simulation environment software. The remainder of my day, however, would require me to work with other engineers to overcome challenges which the project entails beyond the scope of the simulation. This would include measuring various trees, experimenting with the dielectric property of their respective bark, and working at the location of the CubeSat ground station to assess the feasibility of connecting the antenna tree to it. The antenna tree was not physically prototyped; however, a successful simulation was achieved by the end of the summer. Although I did not fabricate the antenna, I took certain measures to initiate the prototyping stage, which include procuring the required components, selecting a tree which would be compatible with my antenna, as well as identifying which CubeSat we can attempt to downlink from.
In a professional sense, I learned useful technical skills through my internship in terms of how to navigate the software. I was able to practice networking in a professional setting. I believe this is one of the most valuable things I took away from my internship. Learning how to navigate an office space where one has superiors to report to as well as peers to collaborate with is crucial as one enters the workforce. Fully immersing myself in this type of environment for about three months really taught me what is means to contribute positively to a project space or team effort.
During my internship, I was required to write multiple formal reports and prepare supplementary presentations. Through this, I was able to hone my scientific communication skills by learning how to logically discuss very specific engineering topics while addressing a wide scientific community. On a personal level, my internship experience allowed me to gain more confidence in myself and my abilities within this specific career path.
The Career Development Center at NYU Abu Dhabi works with students to help improve interpersonal skills, find internship and job opportunities, and prepare for graduate school.