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A weekend spent with NASA scientists has turned into a months-long opportunity for one former community college student.
Tim Hennig, a former student at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, is taking part in a semester-long internship with NASA. Hennig obtained the internship after spending two days with 60 community college students working on a design for the Mars Rover through a NASA program.
Hennig, who is from Radcliff, has been at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia since the middle of January. He is working on an Electron Beam Free Form Fabricator, which is a machine that can repair and make parts for equipment in space.
After working on the Mars Rover project, he was offered a chance to apply for several internships and co-op programs with NASA, he said. He received one through the Undergraduate Student Research Program and was selected to go to Langley to work for 14 weeks.
The machines he and his team are working on are capable of welding to repair equipment, but can also fabricate parts. This means a space crew wouldn’t have to wait for parts to be brought to them, he said.
The EBF3, as it’s called, could have implications for other industries as well, including medicine and automotives, because it makes parts with less waste than a casting and machining process and it’s more energy efficient and can handle higher-strength metals, he said.
“It has a lot of applications,” Hennig said.
Hennig graduated from ECTC with degrees in industrial maintenance and arts, and will be a junior at Western Kentucky University when he returns in the fall. He is working on a degree in technology management.
Hennig said he has met people from all different scientific and engineering backgrounds, and has learned a lot about metallurgy, a field he’s now considering pursuing when he enters the workforce.
“You just learn so much every day,” he said.
He’s also met the design team for the Orion project, the next vehicle scheduled to go to space.
Hennig said his biggest challenge so far has been learning the engineering terminology, but said his colleagues have been satisfied with the knowledge he had in beginning this experience.
“They were very impressed with what ECTC has taught me,” he said.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.