NASA Student Airborne Research Program 2014

An overview of the 2014 NASA Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) in southern California. SARP is an eight-week summer internship that immerses undergraduate students majoring in the STEM fields in all aspects of a major NASA airborne science campaign.


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Taia Wu: I could not have asked for a better introduction to science 

Richard Aylward: Getting to go up in a plane and the ability to write NASA on your resume, is just, it's too good of an opportunity to pass up. 

Victoria Hampton: It was a great experience, and I, I just want to fly all the time now. 

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Steven Schill: The NASA Student Airborne Research Program, or the SARP Program is this amazing opportunity that brings in undergraduate students from across the country to fly onboard the DC-8 airborne laboratory and gives them really a snapshot of beginning to end experience of what a typical airborne research campaign in Earth sciences might look like. 

So this year we had 32 students, which were split into four groups of eight. We had one group that focused on remote sensing over an ocean environment. We had a group that looked at remote sensing over a land or forest environment. And we had two air sampling groups. 

We come into this with an idea of the types of projects that we're going to want to take a look at. The types of projects that we can support with our background and our expertise. But the students really do a great job of incorporating their own backgrounds from their undergraduate experiences and creating projects that are interesting, tractable, and scientifically relevant. It ultimately culminates in a formal research presentation. 

All right. Thank you. [Applause] 

Victoria Hampton: I would definitely say this one is by far the best internship I could ever apply for. The ones back home are either working in an office or just doing a lot of data analysis. But you you don't have a lot of the field experience, which, which SARP gives you that experience. Being a part of the SARP flights and getting to see the instrumentation and actually getting to work on some of the instrumentation was, was amazing. 

Richard Aylward: The fact that they let undergraduates go onto a super expensive, top of the line research plane is just an incredible opportunity that I couldn't have imagined being able to do. And when I was applying to other internships, no one is offering anything anywhere close to the type of experience you can get by being a part of the actual flight crew on a research plane. Doing this experience was a good taste of what it would be like to do research in grad school. 

Taia Wu: I used to think, you know, when I was going into research science that I was choosing between you know, do I want to be working with a pipette or a computer? And that was it, and I was OK with that. But, coming to SARP I realize that there is such a, like, complex and diverse, creative environment here. I didn't realize you could research on planes and on boats and on the ground, as well as in a lab if you wanted to. Or mix all of them. And this cooperative effort between all three, I never realized that science was so creative and diverse and that the community was so rich. 

Victoria Hampton: Well, everyone being different was probably my favorite part of the program because everyone has something unique to offer and something to bring to the table and that's, that's one of the best parts of the program is that to see how everyone can work together despite their different backgrounds, and that we all share common ground even if we're from different science fields. 

Steven Schill: And I also think it's amazing the kind of support that NASA has for this type of program. To support undergraduates and really cultivate the next generation of Earth system science research, which is just another reason why this is such a great program. 

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