Veronica Wu

University of California - San Diego
San Diego, CA

Program Coordinator

Aerospace Engineering

I have always been curious about how mechanical devices functioned, everything from watches and airplanes to a robotic arm displayed at a space museum on a field trip in the fifth grade. When I began learning about outer space in grade school, I noticed I had a keen interest in space shuttles and astronomy. I began collecting news articles on space launches and new discoveries on the moon. Reading those articles inspired me to become a scientist and to work with NASA.

I found out about the engineering field during my sophomore year of high school. After debating whether or not I wanted to major in Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering, I finally settled on Aerospace Engineering in hope of doing research on spacecraft and space exploration during and after graduate school. I am currently an undergraduate student studying Aerospace Engineering at the University of California, San Diego.

In the first three years of my undergraduate career, I have already completed part of my childhood dream of building robots and working with NASA. I participated in a Robot Design Contest in the spring quarter of my freshmen year by designing and constructing a robot built to specific operating parameters, using industry standard tools to develop skills for design and fabrication, and acquiring knowledge of and experience with Autodesk AutoCAD and Inventor and LaserCAMM. After weeks of fabrication and testing, my group successfully built a working robot with two main moving components and won the competition. Currently, I am interning at ISS EarthKAM and GRAIL MoonKAM, two NASA sponsored programs that allow middle school and high school students the opportunity to take photos of our Earth and Moon from outer space. More specifically, I am part of the School Outreach Team at EarthKAM, which provides support and information to all participating schools during missions and year round. For the MoonKAM project, I am currently the team lead of the Orbits team, which uses orbital propagation software to determine the orbit tracks of the GRAIL satellites and the area over the Moon to ensure that the area is suitable for students to take pictures. This internship has been instrumental in developing my time management, teamwork, and organization skills, and because the program operates on missions similar to those of NASA, I feel as though I am already working with NASA, although on a smaller scale.

As a research associate of the 2010 NASA Ames Academy for Space Exploration, I worked with Dr. Stephen Ellis on improving air traffic control through the research of panoramic displays in airport control towers of small and medium-sized airports. The project allowed me to learn more about the psychology of engineering by performing simulations with students to determine visual update rates of the human eye. It also allowed me to use prior knowledge obtained from engineering courses taken at UCSD in combination with programs used for data analysis of the update rates.

The NASA Ames Academy was definitely a rewarding and exciting experience for me, especially because it combined leadership, team building, and networking with advanced research opportunities. The summer of 2010 was undoubtedly the best summer ever! As a staff member, I hope to instill the enthusiasm I had for my Academy in the RAs of the 2011 Ames Academy.

Extracurricular Activities
Outside of schoolwork I like to play sports, watch movies, and play board games. I am also the Vice President of Theta Tau, a professional engineering organization at UCSD. Additionally, I am a member of Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), more specifically, the Water Purification Team of the Thailand Project. We are currently trying to design a water purification system to improve the current water filtration systems of rural Thai villages. Although I don't play the alto saxophone anymore, I love both playing and listening to music of various genres. I also love to travel; I hope to visit Australia, Japan, or France in the near future.

Future Plans
After undergraduate school, I hope to pursue Masters and Doctoral degrees in Astronautics Engineering. I am especially interested in human spaceflight and planetary rovers, but would also like to learn more about life sciences and astrophysics. I also have a strong interest in the research and resources NASA has to offer, as I aspire to have a future career at the administration.