A 15-year-old from Manhattan Beach will get the rare opportunity to work alongside NASA scientists and engineers this summer.
Lukas Harris, a sophomore at Chadwick School in Palos Verdes, earned one of 50 spots in the prestigious Student Enhancement in Earth and Space Science (SEES) program, according to the Texas Space Grant Consortium.
He was selected from a pool of nearly 600 applicants to attend the internship July 13-27 at The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Space Research.
While there, Harris will work with professionals to conduct authentic research using real NASA data collected in space.
He will also help design Mars habitats, Lunar exploration and analyze images from the International Space Station while networking with other students and touring facilities, according to the Consortium.
“I am looking forward to it so much, it’s an amazing opportunity to work on real research,” he said. “I’ve always been a fan of everything NASA is doing. It’s so important.”
The goal of the internship, which is a collaborative effort between the Texas Space Grant Consortium, NASA and University of Texas at Austin, is to give selected students the opportunity to work on the cutting edge of space exploration, according to the Consortium.
“The SEES internship proves that the excitement students feel about space science is a critical step in enriching science, math, engineering and technology,” the Consortium said.
Harris—who has a staggering AP/Honors course load, ample tech experience and several college classes already under his belt—hopes working with NASA will provide him a bit more insight about the aerospace engineering field.
“I’m hoping to take away the experience of working with actual scientists, so I’ll be able to what that’s like. That will have a large impact with what I am thinking career wise,” he said.
Harris also participated in an engineering internship at USC in summer 2018 and will be doing so again this summer on top of the NASA internship.
“I did a program at USC last summer where I worked with the aerospace department to do some research on different types of wings,” he explained.
While the soon-to-be 16-year-old isn’t sure exactly what the future holds for him, he is excited about exploring a career in aerospace engineering.
“I think space exploration and rocketry, for example, has a great capacity to change the world,” Harris added, noting the impact of man’s journey to the moon. “It provided so many different technologies that weren’t even the main focus but revolutionized our world.”
One thing is certain, Harris is headed for the stars.
*Updated 4/30 to reflect a change in Harris' background information.