By Jade Kim, Student Success Specialist

With the progression of aerospace technology and the bold efforts of individuals like Elon Musk, becoming a space-faring society seems increasingly possible. Compton College mechanical engineering student and Base 11 intern Jamie Alvarez knows exactly that, and is equipping herself with the knowledge and experience she will need to help get humans to Mars one day. We sat down with Jamie to learn a little bit more about her experience as a Base 11 academic-year intern at Caltech as well as her future career aspirations.

Jamie standing proudly during her internship at Caltech.

What inspired you to apply to the Base 11 program?

I was inspired to apply to the Base 11 program because I wanted exposure to more STEM-related programs. When I was reading about Base 11, I enjoyed the fact that this program wanted to give students hands-on and real-world experience.

Can you give us a brief summary/overview of what your project is?

For my project, I am working with two other members on a structure that has two stable mechanical shapes that can be morphed into another structure. For example, a slap bracelet: it can turn from a long-shape structure to a cylinder-like structure. On this project, we will be using the surface area to calculate how much force the structure will need in order to open.

In what way has the internship help you toward your goals?

This internship has helped me towards my goals by giving me a broader understanding of aerospace and related STEM fields. It has allowed me to consider possible careers and has shown me that there is a lot of collaboration between fields. It has also given me more skills I will be using in the future. Skills such as thinking outside the box and applying that knowledge to a true engineering problem. It has also reenforced my team-building skills and critical thinking skills.

What are your upcoming plans?

My plan is to transfer to Cal State Pomona. During my time there, I want to make time to study abroad before settling down and applying to research positions within my school or Caltech. When I graduate with my bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, I would like to apply for a position at NASA researching spacesuits in order to make them more efficient for our travels to Mars, or research on the robotic arms on a rover to make them more efficient. Then I would like to go back and get my master’s in aerospace engineering.

What are your dreams for your future career?

My dream for my future career is to work on  engineering-related problems involving anything traveling to space. Hopefully, anything I can help create or discover can be useful in both space and our planet earth!

What advice do you have for students looking to pursue the field of aerospace/STEM?

It’s okay to feel frustrated at first. However, don’t give up! Because difficult roads lead us to the most beautiful destinations!

For more information on Base 11 programs, click here.