Computer Science Major Spent Summer Internship at NASA

Senior computer science major Garrison Vaughan put his web development and database development knowledge to use this summer at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., as a Junior IT Specialist.

"Ever since I was a kid, I've always been impressed with the amazing things NASA has done.  So being able to be an intern there is very exciting for me," says Vaughn.

During the summer, the Manassas, Va., native lived with his parents while commuting to Greenbelt to assist in supporting NASA's High Performance Computing (HPC) systems. After getting clearance, he was given a full time contractor badge and was free to roam the entire campus. "There were parks, ponds, wildlife, people jogging, huge satellite dishes, decommissioned rockets, buildings with unorthodox architecture, and farmers markets throughout the campus," says Vaughan.

During his internship, Vaughan worked with NASA scientists and system architects to move a continuous integration server, used for regression tests against a large Earth System Model, off of the main supercomputer cluster and into the Amazon Cloud. "The reason for this was to make the results of the regression tests easier to get to instead of making the users go through all of the security measures necessary to get to the systems," says Vaughan.

Another project he participated in at Goddard was the development of base classes for graphing widgets, built in processing.js, used to display the current state of the main supercomputer’s nodes and file system.

During his time at Radford, Vaughn has been a member of the College of Science and Technology website development team under the direction of faculty mentor Jack Davis.  And during his winter break, he created  a website for ITCoalition in Alexandria, Va. This project led to the opportunity at NASA.

"The vice president of that company knows a few people at NASA Goddard and asked if I was interested in the internship that they had available," says Vaughn. "I can't really imagine anything career related that would be more exciting than the possibility to work with a super computer in the future," he says.

His summer experience made a lasting impression on Vaughan and solidified his career goals.  "Working at Goddard has been one of the most interesting things I have ever done, and I look forward to working there for as long as I can contribute," he says.

Oct 2, 2012
Ann Brown