NASA director discusses career opportunities

Dr. Jaydeep Mukherjee, Director of NASA's Florida Space Grant Consortium, presents to engineering students about opportunities for grants, fellowships, and scholarships Wednesday afternoon in the engineering school. Hallee Meltzer // Photo Editor
Dr. Jaydeep Mukherjee, Director of NASA’s Florida Space Grant Consortium, presents engineering students with opportunities for grants, fellowships and scholarships Wednesday afternoon in the engineering school. Hallee Meltzer // Photo Editor

The man in charge of NASA’s relationship with Florida universities was on campus Wednesday to discuss opportunities and internships available to University of Miami engineering students.

The event welcomed Jaydeep Mukherjee, director of the Florida Space Grant Consortium, as part of Engineering Week. The consortium is a network of colleges and universities in Florida that support Florida’s space industry through grants, scholarships and fellowships for students and schools. He went through a conversational, discussion-based lecture in which he presented opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience in the space field.

“We will definitely help you get the connections and support you in any way,” Mukherjee said.

Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of the College of Engineering, was excited to have Mukherjee visit UM.

“[The fact] that we have people from NASA come here and [offer] internships and try to actually have a conversation with the students is very, very, for us, rewarding,” Bardet said.

Fifty-four percent of engineering students have two or more internships across their four years in college, according to Director of Career Planning and Placement Ann Helmers. Bardet said he’d like to develop the internships even further.

“It’s all about hands on … We want our students to be able to manufacture – not only to study and to solve homework – but we want them to create, innovate, fabricate,” Bardet said.

Mukherjee presented the Hybrid Rocket Competition to the students, in which they would be challenged to design a rocket that flies at an altitude as close to 2,000 feet as possible. Other activities include the Human Exploration Rover Challenge, which entailed the design and construction of technologies for mobility devices to perform in outer-space environments. He also presented a Robotic Mining Competition, in which students would design a robot to excavate and deposit ground mass to simulate an off-world mining mission.

Bardet expressed his commitment to matching as many students as possible with the industry.

“The College of Engineering is invested in providing internships to students,” Bardet said. “This is something we are going to develop in the future even further.”