Everett Community College mechanical engineering student Amy Felt is returning to Kennedy Space Center this summer for her second internship in the past year with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Felt, 22, of Mount Vernon, will be a Fluids Research and Technology Development Engineer intern. She will be performing research with cryogenic fluids and insulating material.
Felt, co-president of EvCC’s Society of Women Engineers student club, previously worked at Kennedy Space Center during Fall quarter as a Fluids and Propulsions Engineer intern. During her internship, she worked on an Advanced Plant Habitat Environmental Control System. The technology she helped develop is expected to be onboard a space shuttle flight to the ISS International Space Station in 2016.
She was one of thousands of applicants for a limited number of summer internship positions.
“Most interns were juniors and I was a sophomore. Most people were surprised I went to a community college. We pretty much all had the same knowledge,” she said. “At the end of my internship, a couple of people at NASA asked what I was earning my master’s degree in. I told them I was finishing my second year of college.”
When Felt applied for her first internship, she loved the idea of working for NASA but thought it was unlikely she’d be selected.
“I thought it was never going to happen,” said Felt, whose love of engineering was inspired by a summer residency with Washington Aerospace Scholars when she was in high school.
Her NASA mentor credited the projects Felt completed in her EvCC engineering classes for giving her an edge.
At EvCC, “not only do you know your professor and they know you by name, but it’s smaller so you’re able to do more. Here, you do an application project every quarter. The projects we did here – compared to the university students who don’t have those – give community college students an advantage,” Felt said.
After graduating from Mount Vernon High School, Felt initially enrolled at the University of Washington, where she struggled in large classes. She transferred to Skagit Valley College, then came to EvCC, drawn by the college’s engineering program.
After a UW advisor encouraged her to switch her major from engineering to business, telling her she didn’t have what it took to go into engineering like she had planned, Felt questioned whether she was in the right field.
Her EvCC instructors and experience at NASA confirmed Felt’s desire for a career as an engineer.
“This was what I was supposed to be doing. It was really reassuring. There’s always ‘Am I going into the right field?’ and I went to NASA, and then I knew for sure,” she said, recalling watching three rocket launches while at the Kennedy Space Center. “I went to NASA and fell in love with it, so I want to do something space related.”
Some of the data from the microgravity experiment Felt designed and built during that internship will be published in a microgravity journal, and she will be listed as a co-author.
Felt has shared information about her Fall NASA internship with her fellow engineering students and future engineers.
“In addition to building her own future, Amy’s put a great deal of effort into building a community of engineers on campus. She organized an outreach event for high school students to shadow EvCC students for a day this quarter and she’s co-president of the Society of Women Engineers club,” said EvCC engineering instructor Kristine Washburn, the SWE club adviser.
After Felt returns from her summer NASA internship, she’ll start Washington State University engineering classes through the WSU mechanical engineering program offered at EvCC’s campus.