Corey Snyder

University of West Virginia
Morgantown, WV

Aero/Astro Engineering

Principal Investigators: Bill Warmbrodt and Larry Olson
Project: Advanced Rotorcraft Aeromechanics Research

Education and Experiences:

It was early one cold, autumn morning when I first realized that playing with rockets was more than just a hobby for me. Pushing the button myself and watching the model rocket that my mother and I had worked on for weeks soar as high as I could see. I was only eight years old, but even then I knew that rocketry was exhilarating. Watching as a creation of my own, traveled higher and farther than my own two legs could carry me was inspiration enough to pursue an education in the sciences. It wasn't until some years later when I read the adventures of Homer Hickam and the Rocket Boys, a West Virginia native just like me, that I began to realize the opportunities available to me in my own back yard at West Virginia University(WVU) in Morgantown, West Virginia.

As an undergraduate, it is somewhat difficult to secure a research position within a laboratory as an underclassman, so I opted to take the route of applying for individual NASA undergraduate fellowships sponsored by the WV Space Grant Office at WVU. I began with a small turbine film cooling assessment, which then allowed me to secure one of the coveted laboratory positions after gaining some independent experience. My exposure to laboratory research was very broad and allowed me to become familiarized with general laboratory procedures and many types of laboratory equipment. My project was to characterize the mechanical wear of polymers used as coatings for touch-screens. This research was published in the 2009 International Wear of Materials Conference Journal and eventually led me to continue the research abroad at the University of Birmingham, UK during the Summer of 2009. This research was used to write my 30 Senior Honor's Thesis titled "Material and Wear Characterization of Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene".

My experiences at WVU provided me with a multitude of student projects to become involved with but the one that caught my attention was NASA's Microgravity Research University Project. I joined WVU's 7th Microgravity Research Team as a junior and spent a year researching, constructing, and developing an aerospace engineering experiment to be flown aboard NASA's C-9 "Weightless Wonder" aircraft. The skills that I gained during this time were invaluable to me as a student as it gave me a better sense of teamwork and responsibility. This was a commitment above and beyond the classroom and involved studying aspects of engineering that at the time were far more advanced than my classwork. By placing responsibility for a project like this in the hands of students and allowing them to monitor and gauge their own progress, a seed was planted for understanding the value of true teamwork in accomplishing a seemingly insurmountable task.

After my microgravity research I participated in a few internships, one of which was for Northrop Grumman with the NASA Sounding Rockets Operation Contract (NSROC) in Wallops Island, Virginia. As a mechanical engineering intern, I received weekly projects and mentoring from other NASA engineers relating to three dimensional modeling of rocket payloads and rocket motor grain geometries. My internship with NSROC allowed me significant one-on-one experience with knowledgeable engineers working on similar projects. One aspect of this internship that proved to be very beneficial is that I was treated as another engineer in the mechanical engineering team and was included in many milestone reviews for specific missions that I worked on. My time at NSROC culminated in my helping to design and machine components for a major NASA project called the Max Launch Abort System (MLAS) for the Orion Crew Capsule.

All of my experiences, may they be in the classroom or in an industrial setting, have helped to form the person that I am today. On that cold morning, launching a model rocket with the help of my mother it would have been impossible to foresee the path I would take into my future. But I knew that my future would involve real rockets as I pursued a career in Aerospace Engineering. Fourteen years later I was working in a NASA facility on a part that would be included in a project focusing on keeping a new wave of astronauts safe on their journey to the International Space Station. I look forward to continuing on this journey of discovery at the University of Colorado at Boulder where I will be studying towards my Master's in Astrodynamics and of course at the 2010 NASA Ames Academy!

Hobbies: In my free time I enjoy snowboarding and playing basketball. Lately I have been spending more time playing music, taking pictures, and working on cars.