Ambitious senior interns with NASA, pursues long-time passion

Senior Kent Charlery has been fulfilling an almost lifetime goal by interning for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), something he has wanted to do since elementary school.

While most people hear about internship opportunities through College and Career Coordinator Deborah Prochnow or the Blake website, Charlery has known about the NASA internship since fifth grade and expresses always having a fascination for space and rocket ships.

Applying for the internship online, Charlery had to send in a resume as well as other basic information about himself. NASA admitted him into the program December 10 of last year and he started the internship December 17. Charley uses the time after fifth period to attend his internship three days a week.

Charlery enjoys his internship because the work he does, coding, serves a purpose. He says, “My favorite thing about the internship is that I’m actually working on something that’s going to be utilized.” When he gets to his internship, his mentor shows him what his team has been working on and what NASA has planned for the future. Right now, Charlery is helping his mentor with a probe that looks at exoplanets.

Charlery first started learning about coding through his interactive media class in ninth grade. Since then, he became familiar with Java and C++, but thanks to his internship, he has had the opportunity to become acquainted with another program called Python. He says, “It’s completely different than what I’ve learned, but it has some attributes of the coding I learned before so as I’m helping him, I’m also learning at the same time.”

While interning at NASA, Charlery also has the opportunity to see the assorted projects engineers are working on. “Right now they’re trying to send something closer to the sun,” he says. “They [experiment with] this big tube that [gets] as hot as the sun… blazing hot.”

Although Charlery has greater aspirations than coding itself, he recognizes the work he is doing for NASA as a necessary means to his greater goals, a way to build connections and a chance to gain experience. He says, “It’s a stepping stone. I want to eventually have my own private practice where I can develop what I want to develop. My end goal is to be the first person to implement atomic fission into a rocket ship.”

Charlery is not stopping there with his ambitions. He hopes to be able to invest in a multitude of interests, such as zoology and non-profit organizations.