Old Helenian at NASA

When Callan Cranenburgh graduated from Helena College in 2013, he had high goals.

‘Study Engineering Science at UWA and follow that with a Master of Professional Engineering’ reads his yearbook entry.

Not only has the former Head Student reached those goals, he’s now doing what many aspire to, but few achieve – an internship with the US space agency, NASA.

Based at the Ames Research Centre in Silicon Valley, Callan is working in the Experimental Aero-Physics Branch on a four-month internship as an aerospace engineer.

So far it has been an amazing experience and I have had the opportunity of working with some of the best and brightest people in the aerospace industry. 

After graduating from UWA with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Callan did his Master of Professional Aerospace Engineering at the University of Sydney. The NASA internship gives him the practical industry experience needed to complete his degree. Being accepted for the internship was the end result of a lengthy application process that included a Skype interview at 1.30 in the morning. After that, it all happened very quickly.

I received an email the following afternoon advising me that I was lucky enough to be selected to be one of 18 interns at NASA spanning from a number of different countries. At first, I didn’t really react as it didn’t seem real and I was also so tired from the months of thesis work beforehand. Then I read that they wanted me to begin two weeks from the time of receiving the letter and at that point, it was a combination of excitement and time-pressure.

All interns at NASA are paired with a mentor in their field of work. This mentor is essentially your boss for the duration of your program and provides you with support and direction. My mentor is Dr James Bell, a very astute employee at NASA Ames Research Centre. Dr Bell is a fantastic aerospace engineer and I have learned so much from him in the short time I have been working here. He has been working at NASA for a long time and has accomplished so much in his career, so it is a pleasure to be working with him each day. 

When his internship ends next month, Callan is hoping to get a full-time contract in the aerospace engineering industry.

It is an exciting time and I am really looking forward to what the future holds. I love aerospace engineering and I aim to build up some technical experience for the next portion of my career.

Six years after he finished at Helena College, Callan was clear when asked to complete the sentence, ‘A Helena graduate goes into the world with…’

Sociability. Something that I cannot stress the importance of enough. Everywhere in life, you will deal with people. I really think that due to our close-knit culture that we were immersed in every day we benefit with amazing social skills. I speak to people in Sydney who had four or five hundred people in their year. I think that the fact that this number almost includes every person at our College says something. We grow close together, both with fellow students and the teachers, this is special. It really is family and I am proud to be a part of it.

It’s an environment that I am so grateful to have been lucky enough to grow and learn in. I can’t give enough gratitude to the school as so many aspects of my day to day life have been directly governed from it.

I owe everything to my family, my friends, and all the staff of Helena. I can’t thank everyone enough and I’m looking forward to getting back and catching up.

 

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