Valpo student interns get recognition at NASA

Matt Sherrier and Zach Bihary acquired internships at NASA through a Valpo Alum, Nick Skytland, works at NASA as a VAN member. After working the whole summer in 2015 as interns, Matt Sherrier (Mechanical Engineering Major, Junior) and Zach Bihary (Meteorology Major, Senior) received the Group Achievement award from NASA, celebrating their significant contributions to NASA’s team’s work in data science, collaborative workspaces and web development. Only a very small number of interns receive awards every summer.


NASA Image Student AcheivementsThe following is a part of Matt and Zach’s summer evaluation from NASA:

Our team created a list that we thought would keep a couple of interns busy over the summer and into the fall. 
About eight weeks into their term, Zachary and Matthew came in and noted that they were concerned about running out of things to do. We laughed, but they came back and showed us the list and went through what they had done and what they had left. They had really done it. They came in, and with no distraction and no complaining had completed everything from outfitting a kitchen to installing Internet of Things devices to building websites to researching of NASAdata. 
Both these young men have proven to be hard workers, willing to take whatever “other duties as assigned” that were needed for the team. The Center Chief Technology Officer came in, impressed by their work in 3D printing, and asked them to work on a logging project with him; even though they had no background in logging, they watched videos and did research so that they be prepared to engage with him on his terms. Every day they showed up on time, every task they pressed through to completion, every item that was unfamiliar they figured out.
What was truly exceptional about Zachary and Matthew is the way they chose to collaborate on their work and approach it together. Two very different young men with different skills and backgrounds, they picked up the mandate of our team (for participation, collaboration and transparency) and really ran with it. They cross-trained; they shared ideas; they did things together when they might not have to simply because they could bring a wider perspective and experience to bear. This is the kind of culture change our team is working to bring to JSC, and to see how readily these interns picked it up was powerful. 
We nominate them jointly as a demonstration of why collaboration is so powerful – and that this mission we have to pioneer the future isn’t just about what’s on our resume but how we engage with each other.
I know Nick would say this about Valpo all day long, but I want to say how impressed I have been with these young men: not just their technical knowledge, but their collaborative approach, work ethic, and willingness to learn. Please pass this on to anyone who should know in your school so that these exceptional students continue to be recognized, and we look forward to Valpo sending us many more of your students.