Nick Skytland ’02 didn’t wait for graduation to start living his dream. He began working for NASA in 2000 as a mechanical engineer in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory and never looked back. Nick has continually advanced within the federal agency and was recently promoted to deputy chair of the Exploration Technology Office. During his time at NASA, Nick has led more than 500 training sessions to prepare astronauts for extravehicular activity and founded the 1958 Coworking Space at Johnson Space Center.
Like Nick, Sarah Kuchel ’20 landed her perfect internship with NASA while attending Valpo, but she didn’t stop there. Sarah completed three internships and co-ops with NASA while a student and has accepted a post-graduation position at ERC Inc. to support the Test Operations and Support Contract at the Kennedy Space Center. “This is a dream come true, and I am looking forward to being a part of the mission sending the first woman (and next American man) to the moon,” Sarah says.
While Sarah and Nick ventured to NASA, the organization came to Laura Floyd ’23, by way of a flyover by the International Space Station (ISS). Laura inspired a group of her high school classmates to start an amateur radio club. While a freshman at Valpo, Laura facilitated an event with NASA for the club to speak with an astronaut on the ISS. The students were able to have a two-way conversation with astronaut Drew Morgan to learn about his personal experiences as an astronaut, what it’s like to fly on the ISS, and how his education and training led to him being selected as an astronaut.
Although their experiences and roles have differed greatly, Nick, Sarah, and Laura have all demonstrated their determination to achieving their dreams. Whether working for NASA or beyond, College of Engineering graduates combine the thrill of discovery with their drive to be part of something bigger.