Jason Cornelius is reaching for the stars, literally, as a NASA intern
WRIGHT TWP. — A Crestwood High School graduate will live out his childhood dream of serving as an intern for NASA.
Jason Cornelius, a 20-year-old Penn State student and Crestwood alumnus, was recently selected to be a part of a spring 2016 NASA internship at NASA Ames Research Center – Rotorcraft Aeromechanics Branch at Moffett Field, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley.
“It’s always been my little kid’s dream,” Cornelius said.
As a freshman in college, he applied for a NASA internship and got as far as a Skype interview with NASA officials. This year, when he applied for the same internship — a research and design of rotorcraft aeromechanics internship — he had better results. He was admittedly shocked when the email came through saying, “If you’re still interested and available, the spot is yours.”
Rotorcraft aeromechanics is the study of rotary-wing aircraft.
“The Rotorcraft Aeromechanics Branch at NASA Ames conducts helicopter, tilt rotor and advanced rotary wing research,” Cornelius said.
During the internship, which will last until the end of April, Cornelius will research the development of rotary wing vehicles with eight other students, four undergraduate and three international graduate students.
Cornelius credits Crestwood teachers and the Crestwood curriculum for mentoring him, guiding him and helping him to choose a life plan. He was able to “go as far as I can go” in math, which allowed him to “jump right in to calculus 2” at Penn State.
He also credits physics teacher Bechir Garraoui for “working through breaks, study halls and whatever free time” to teach a handful of students a college-level Calculus class, as the class wasn’t part of the district’s schedule. With college-level classes in high school, if the final exam is passed, credits are awarded.
“All of us passed (the AP exam),” he recalled. “All thanks to Garraoui.”
Because the internship is spring based, Cornelius has to take off this coming semester. He duel enrolled with King’s College during his senior year of high school, allowing him to attend Penn State main campus with “a bunch of credits.” Next spring, he’ll be considered a semester behind due to some classes being offered only in certain semesters.
“In the grand scheme, (being a semester behind is) not a big deal,” Cornelius said.
There is a great possibility for Cornelius to go to China as a teaching assistant when he returns from California. The three-week trip will be a repeat for him, as he went last year. The program will allow him to teach approximately 25 individuals who are studying engineering.
Cornelius will also continue to add experience to his resume when he works this summer at Bell Helicopter in Texas. Like the China trip, Bell Helicopter will be a second stint for him as he interned with that company last summer.
Reach Melanie Mizenko at 570-991-6116 or on Twitter @TL_MMizenko