Though she hasn't yet graduated college, University of Nevada, Reno senior Katie Browne already has experience with one of the nation's most prestigious institutions: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Browne found and applied for the internship through the Entry Point program, which helps disabled students find internships with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and NASA. She learned about the opportunity through the University's Disability Resource Center.
This past summer at Ames Research Center, a division of NASA, Browne completed an internship that focused on a research project in distributed computing, a type of computer science that connects autonomous computers through a network. Though the subject matter might seem like Greek to most people, the computer science major was comfortable with the work.
"I was so scared I wouldn't know anything," she said. "But it was all in my area of study, so I knew exactly what I was doing."
The Entry Point program aims to connect students with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) or business internships to help meet the global economy's growing need for professionals in those areas. Browne is the first student at Nevada to be matched with an internship through Entry Point, and she enjoyed the experience.
"Just being there, and seeing the really cool facilities they have, was great," she said. "The atmosphere was very welcoming."
Despite her own success in her field-the Carson City native maintains a 3.98 grade point average-Browne was at first intimidated by the credentials of the people with whom she worked.
"Everyone introducing themselves was saying 'I'm from Princeton, I'm from Harvard,' and I was like 'oh no!'" she laughed. "But it turned out to be fun."
Browne said the internship was also a valuable learning experience.
"Working with my mentor, [Ames Principal Scientist] Ashok Srivastava, was awesome," she said. "I learned a lot of different ways to solve problems."
Browne was asked to return to the internship, and she plans to attend graduate school. She hopes that more students will be able to find work through Entry Point and the Disability Resource Center.
"[The Center] made it pretty easy," she said. "I sent out my resume and got back an invitation to apply for work."
"It's a great program," she said. "If anyone has the chance to do it, I definitely recommend it."