Published: May 8, 2024 By

Tyler Huebsch is a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering. He completed an internship with the Convergent Aeronautics Solutions team at NASA.

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Tyler Huebsch

Where did you intern and what was exciting for you about that opportunity?

I interned part-time for NASA during the spring of 2024. I worked on their Convergent Aeronautics Solutions (CAS) team which focuses on identifying new solutions to particularly wicked problems. Wicked problems involve complex, interconnected, and contradictory stakeholders that become difficult or impossible to solve when trying to address every requirement. The specific area of research I focused on was powering sustainable airports in 2075.

I was excited to be a part of a speculative research project. Speculative research and design are processes that uncover alternative approaches to solving future problems. This type of research allowed me to think creatively and reimagine my preconceived idea of research while still pulling technical information from my engineering background.

What kinds of projects have you had a chance to work on during your internship?

I mainly worked on the “Powering Sustainable Airports in 2075” project focusing on powering air-side airport infrastructure and the human factors that will drive the infrastructure changes of the future. These opportunities are helping NASA build a hydrogen coalition that will determine a framework for carbon-free, sustainable power generation at airports.

My research analyzed the fuels and energy generation technologies that will be powering aircraft and airports. The energy dependence airports had on the aircraft revealed opportunities like on-site power generation, carbon-free fuel analyses, and a decentralized airport energy system.

Was there a particular challenge you encountered that really pushed you to learn something new?

I had to learn how to solve problems from a more creative lens. In school, I solved problems that were very well-defined and laden with technical material. The problems we were solving in my internship were inherently wicked and had undefined future states. This internship forced me to step out of my comfort zone to solve problems. I learned techniques like backcasting, data storytelling, wicked problem-solving, and lateral thinking. Going forward, I will be able to apply these new tools to future problems and projects.

What advice do you have for other students interested in pursuing a similar opportunity?

Don’t be afraid to apply to any job posting that you find interests you! I never could have imagined myself working at NASA simply because I didn’t have a degree in Aerospace. Even after I got the job offer, I felt I wasn’t qualified enough to work there. After a few weeks, I realized that I was selected for a reason and was able to contribute every day to the team. Even if you don’t meet every qualification on a job posting, still be sure to put your resume in the mix. It could lead to an incredible opportunity for you!