News

Senior develops out-of-this-world rocket with NASA

Patterson

Patterson

While other students worked in offices for their summer internships, senior Benton Patterson was helping develop a rocket engine at NASA.

Patterson, who studies aerospace and mechanical engineering, worked side-by-side with professionals on NASA’s Space Launch System, an initiative that hopes to expand space exploration.  The engine that he worked on is going to be the biggest engine NASA has ever tested.

Before Patterson could get there, he had to apply to many internships. After not hearing back from any in March, he began to feel nervous about his prospects.

“By that point, I was starting to get a little concerned that I wasn’t going to get any internship offers,” he said.

Patterson used the USAJOBS government website to search for all the internships that were related to his major. Under NASA, Patterson applied to intern with the John C. Stennis Space Center.

Patterson always knew he wanted to be an aerospace engineer, and after researching at Florida State University in 2013, he became more interested in propulsion.

“I’ve been interested in doing aerospace engineering pretty much all of college,” he said.

Harry Ryan, lead systems analyst and modeling engineer in the NASA Engineering and Test Directorate at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center, chose Patterson for the internship because of his good grades. He also became Patterson’s mentor in the program.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of high qualified students apply,” Ryan said. “It’s very difficult to choose. An outstanding academic record is the first level I used. Then it’s a balance between the recommendation letters and the student.”

For students preparing to apply for internships, Ryan says in addition to decent grades it’s important to have good communication skills and to be ready for anything the internship may throw at you.

Patterson also stressed being a self-sufficient go-getter. He said he spent a lot of time over the summer learning different programs outside of his internship in order to keep up with the work and be able to do more challenging jobs.

“I did anything my mentor needed me to do,” Patterson said. “My dad is a commercial real estate agent. My mom is a special education teacher. My parents haven’t been able to help me with school since, like, sixth grade.”

Ryan praised Patterson’s work ethic.

“He was very able to work on a variety of projects,” Ryan said of Patterson’s work ethic. “His communication skills in terms of both writing and oral communication and presentation were outstanding as well.”

Patterson’s projects included testing different high pressure systems of the engine with NASA’s system analysis team.

“Most of what I worked on was testing invalidation of high pressured gas systems – nitrogen, fuels, liquid oxygen and hydrogen and helium,” Patterson said.

After graduation, Patterson is considering working for NASA, but wants to keep his options open. He also wants to work with SpaceX, a space transport services company that is finding ways to colonize Mars.

November 2, 2014

Reporters

Nadijah Campbell


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

The Miami Hurricanes found new life Saturday — despite so much seemingly going wrong. Big plays on o ...

At least in terms of their bowl situation, the Miami Hurricanes can take a deep, collective breath. ...

Thoughts, notes, reaction and postscripts after UM’s 38-14 win on Saturday at Virginia Tech, making ...

There wasn’t much energy in the Watsco Center stands on Saturday afternoon as most University of Mia ...

View photos from the Bethune-Cookman wildcats at Miami Hurricanes in a NCAA college basketball game ...

UM Libraries is presenting an extraordinary exhibit that immerses the audience in an emotional journ ...

A UM researcher is helping to lead a study on how smoke interacts with clouds and its impact on the ...

People are bombarded with news and information these days, providing opportunities for discourse tha ...

Students, faculty and staff stopped by the School of Architecture’s Korach Gallery to learn what Mag ...

The On Campus event featured innovative National Geographic Explorers—photographers, scientists, sto ...

The Canes got back to their winning ways with an impressive 38-14 victory at Virginia Tech. ...

20-point performances from Chris Lykes and DJ Vasiljevic led Miami past Bethune-Cookman. ...

Seniors Kolby Bird and Haley Templeton will play in their final match at the James L. Knight Sports ...

The No. 24 Miami women's basketball team is headed to Iowa State for the Preseason WNIT champio ...

The Canes hit the road for the final time in the 2018 regular season and it is to a familiar and hos ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.