A University of Waikato student has landed the opportunity of a life-time by securing an internship with NASA.
Master of Science (Technology) student Lynley St George headed off to the United States at the weekend to begin her internship with NASA's Ames Research Centre in Silicon Valley.
St George, of Ngāti Porou descent, says she was “incredibly excited” when she found out she got the internship, but also shocked because she didn’t expect to get through the selection process.
Now the 23-year-old has left New Zealand to work at one of the most well-known science institutions in the world. While there, she will focus on novel media data visualization.
"This includes things like holograms and 3D printing, which is all about how you take data that's been collected from outer space and make it easier to understand, and draw new conclusions from it for scientists and for the public.
"I'm really looking forward to meeting other like-minded people on the program, both interns and the NASA staff I'll be working with. I've already had the opportunity to talk to some of the other interns online and everyone's work sounds so fascinating, even if it's not a field I study," says St George.
“The government is committed to building an innovative space industry in New Zealand and the skills, knowledge and connections interns bring home and share will help us build our space capability and inspire more young people to get involved in the sector."
St George’s Masters research is focused on human computer interaction and data visualization. She's also a student mentor for first-year Māori students, and helps guide them through university.
She says there’s a lack of Māori in science, but hopes opportunities like the NASA internship will open doorways for other Māori to enter the field.
“University has helped me connect to my Māori side. I can see the divide between Māori and Pākehā at university and that’s something I’d like to see change,” she says.
"Science itself is a diverse field so we need it to represent everybody in all of our diversity in New Zealand. It also gives Māori more opportunity to have a say in what happens especially in these really technological fields."
As well being a NASA intern, St George is the recipient of the Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu Scholarship and the Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering Scholarship.
St George is expected to return in December.