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Choose KU, Choose the World

Brianna McCardle

Brianna McCardle at NasaBrianna McCardle dreamed of working for NASA since high school.  This past summer, her dream came true. A senior geology major with minors in physics and astronomy, McCardle's internship centered on the digital restoration of the Apollo 11 landing site map, which she executed at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Her project consisted of using geographic information system (GIS) programming, specifically ArcMap, to reconstruct the map of the Apollo 11 landing site. GIS is a program used by geographers to map the Earth and other planetary bodies.

McCardle attended the Planetary Geological Mappers Annual Meeting in Tennessee, where she got to meet mappers for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which is the science agency for the U.S. Department of the Interior that focuses on providing information about the Earth's ecosystems and natural hazards.

"The success I experienced will help people recognize not only the abundance of great opportunities Kutztown has to offer to students, but also that my professors largely contributed to that success, which isn't stressed enough," she said. "Since the 11th grade, I've always told people that working at NASA was my dream job, and the fact that I got to intern there is monumental. I loved it because it helped me decide that this is the kind of environment and field of study I want to pursue after KU."

McCardle received advice from Dr. Kurt Friehauf, professor of physical sciences, who helped her apply for the internship and construct essays. She noted that Friehauf was one of her biggest supporters throughout the process, as was her advisor Dr. Erin Kraal, associate professor of physical sciences, who McCardle says was extremely helpful as she began planning her future.

"Imagine being in a group where you relate with everyone and get to share your passions. I got to build lifelong relationships with the other interns and my NASA professionals. Its life changing," she said.

After she graduates from Kutztown, McCardle intends to apply for graduate school and major in planetary science. She plans to continue applying for internships with NASA. She ultimately hopes to meet all of the other interns she became close with back at NASA again - this time with everyone as an employee.

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