Ty Trapps

Capitol College
Laurel, MD

Software Internet Applications
Principal Investigator: Terry Fong

Who is Ty Trapps?

I am curious about the world and am always asking “why” and “how”. As a child, my parents nurtured that curiosity with a home library full of books and encyclopedias on everything from exotic animals to anatomy. As I progressed through school, that curiosity and thirst for knowledge grew through participation in science fairs, academic competitions and group projects. Today as a college student, I am exploring how to bridge the seemingly daunting gap between science and art. As a student studying software development, that is a question I must always ask when approaching any project. Art has played a key role in the planning process for many of the interfaces I have built. Beyond the obvious aspects of design, considering the human aspect of how one relates to a machine or application has been a key interest of mine throughout my undergraduate career. I participated in my college’s Robotics Team as a programmer, which has helped address some important human-computer interaction questions I originally had. This summer I will have a chance to explore this topic further as a research associate within the Intelligent Robotics Group at Ames. I am grateful and excited to embark on this new stage of my intellectual journey.

My Interest in Space

NASA has always played a significant role in my life since I was a kid. When I was younger I wanted to be an astronaut just like Mae Jemison, the first African-American female astronaut and one of my idols growing up. When I was ten, my dad started working for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and brought me to lectures, special events and space camp in Huntsville, Alabama. It was amazing to say the least.
As an undergraduate student, I have taken courses and attended symposiums on space science at my college and have even had the opportunity to meet several former astronauts. I am a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and have presented a student paper at the AIAA Young Professionals conference at the Applied Physics Laboratory in November 2011. I recently completed an internship at the Space Telescope Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, in which I worked with the software development team on the Hubble Space Telescope and Amazing Space websites.

Previous NASA Involvement

My journey with NASA began in the summer of 2011 when I became a student intern with the Langley Aerospace Research Student Scholars program at Langley Aerospace Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. As a research intern in the Office of the Chief Information Officer Directorate, I worked with the Chief Technology Officer on a project exploring the future of technology within the space industry. I researched topics pertaining to quantum computing, ergonomics, virtual reality, cyber security and robotics. I presented my findings to the Directorate and submitted a twenty page research paper. I also participated in a center-wide mobile application competition, in which our team of four interns won first place for a Geographic Information System application that utilized existing technology enabling employees to find their way around the campus. I was also selected as a NASA Student Ambassador for the 2012-2013 academic year.

Out of the classroom

I served as president of my college’s chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the Capitol College chapter of Out in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, both for the 2011-2012 academic year. I also am a member of my college’s Green Club (environmental awareness club) and am a tech volunteer at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. Some areas of interest include technology, computers, film, poetry, media, sports and fitness, organic/holistic lifestyles, campus diversity, religion and theology.

The Journey Ahead

I will graduate with my Bachelor of Science degree in software internet applications with a minor in information assurance May 2013. Upon graduation, I hope to seek a full-time position ideally in the space industry as a software developer or user interface designer. In addition, I am considering graduate studies in human-computer interaction.

Reasons for NASA Academy and Summer Expectations

I decided to apply to the NASA Academy because I wanted to experience an intellectual challenge that would better prepare me for a career in computer science. While I have been blessed with the opportunity to participate in remarkable internship programs, I knew NASA Academy would be the perfect way to cap off my undergraduate career. The academy will challenge me intellectually, emotionally and mentally and will give me more exposure to working in team environments. I am aware of the history of success academy graduates have had in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics disciplines and I am honored to join their ranks. This summer I hope to walk away with practical hands-on technical knowledge and also an amazing professional and social experience that will better prepare me upon graduation.