Week 1: A Rocky Start

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Friday, June 8, 2018


Collin Flynn

Trains, 3D printing, and hockey.

That about sums up my first week in D.C. 15 interns including myself have found our way to D.C from all over— California, Florida, Texas, Wisconsin and many other states. We got a dim welcome to Washington, with rain and wrinkled shirts, but we didn’t let that dampen our day (although the rain did leave us quite damp). When I arrived George Washington’s campus, where I will spending the next ten weeks, I received a warm welcome from all of the staff. I was both excited and scared to meet my roommates for the summer, because I’ve heard all too many roommate horror stories. My worries were quickly relinquished once I met my first roommate, and met the other two as they came in after me.

We grabbed a few other interns in our crew and headed to Walmart to stock up on groceries, soap, pillows.... the essentials. We definitely should have read the reviews of this place though, because they were low on EVERYTHING. The one thing that hurt the most... no pillows. We got back, a little bummed from that Walmart experience and headed to bed.

The next day, was orientation. We all headed over to SPS headquarters in College Park, and successfully made it using the metra without any hiccups. Orientation was great— mostly because food and coffee was provided. The best part was finally being able to put a face to the name of all the SPS program coordinators we had been pestering with emails the last two months. After orientation, Daniel (another NASA Intern) and I headed over to the Goddard Space Flight Center. We got temporary badges and went our separate ways. Since I did orientation with SPS, and not NASA, I was about to walk into a training course an hour late. The man teaching the class? Alex, who I managed to catch right as he was leaving! After this one-on-one course, I met with my co-mentor Larry. Everyone looks at NASA as this high up place, and I do too. I don’t know what I was expecting my mentor to be like, but I definitely wasn’t expecting him to drop everything he was doing to show me more about the project I’ll be working on.

I’m on the MiniEPMA project, or mini electron probe micro analyzer. The project’s goal is to be able to generate high energy electrons to bombard a sample and create x-rays to identify the elements in said sample. We are using carbon nanotubes (CNTs) which are really good at generating electrons without much power consumption. This makes it a great apparatus for sending to moons, comets, and asteroids far away from a light source. This week I learned a new software for 3D printing, and built a 3D model of the MiniEPMA, so we can better understand the problems we are having with the set-up.

But enough about work! Finagling the metra system was quite an adventure in itself. I had a bad habit of keeping my phone at 1% this entire week, so taking the wrong trains and buses was not an uncommon occurrence. Finally, on Thursday I was able to make it back from Goddard at a reasonable time, not missing ANY buses or trains. While making a commute in the time that a local would take is quite exciting, even more exciting was standing in the crowd of thousands of people that night to watch the capitals take home the Stanley cup. I never would’ve thought that thousands of people would gather around what is essentially a huge TV, but the volume of the crowd confirmed their size. Next week my other mentor, Adrian, comes back from vacation. He will be teaching me on all of the instuments I will be using for the project and I can not wait to get started.


Until next week


Collin Flynn


Collin Flynn