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Clarkson’s Lee interning with NASA


POTSDAM - When he was growing up in Oneonta, Michael Lee’s parents encouraged him to pursue all of his interests. Now his curiosity is taking the Clarkson University sophomore to the mother of all research adventures - NASA.

Mr. Lee is one of 125 students to receive a summer scholars award to the Langley Aerospace Research Summer Scholars Project or LARSS. Participants are awarded a scholarship for their 10-week summer research experience under the supervision of a NASA mentor. They also attend lectures by prominent engineers and scientists, and get to tour the center’s wind tunnels, computational facilities and laboratories.

“It’s going to be fantastic. I’m really excited,” Mr. Lee says. “My project there will involve computational and experimental data for launch configurations. I’ll be working to validate experiments and establish standard practices. Hopefully what I learn will be used in future. It’s incredibly humbling.”

For Mr. Lee, the sky truly is no limit. Majoring in aeronautical engineering with a minor in the humanities, he hopes to round out his studies with anthropology and ethics.

As one of Associate Professor of Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering Ken Visser’s students, Mr. Lee is currently conducting research on wing-tip efficiency for his honors thesis that makes him all the more eager for LARSS.

“I can’t explain how much I really love the research I’ve done with Dr. Visser,” Mr. Lee says. “It was easy to build a relationship with him, and bounce ideas off him. This is a fantastic learning experience.”

Dr. Visser, who has worked at NASA Langley previously, has had other of students of his go on this internship. He fueled Mr. Lee’s excitement by bringing in a colleague from there to speak at Clarkson recently. Richard Wahls, associate head, Configuration Aerodynamics Branch, gave two talks at Clarkson in March of this year and had dinner with the aeronautical engineering seniors.

“They were thrilled. For them to get first hand exposure to current research topics at NASA, and then for me to be able to send some of them back down to Langley is a great experience for them,” Visser says. “The number one thing I tell my students is look for opportunities and grab onto them. I love being able to help further their careers and provide them with opportunities.”

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