Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Space Designer" - Do Something Great - The Ohio State University

"Space Designer" - Do Something Great - The Ohio State University

Ohio State student Monica Okon interned at NASA, where a project manager role reminded her why she'd gone into engineering in the first place.

At Ohio State, Monica Okon is a senior majoring in biological engineering.

But this summer at NASA's John Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Okon wore a different hat: project manager. She oversaw the design and creation of a toilet that will work in a space shuttle's zero gravity atmosphere.

"One of the neat things about NASA is we have to look at all aspects of interaction of the astronauts up in space," says Nancy Hall, a NASA research scientist who supervised Okon.

"For example, how do you handle an astronaut going into the bathroom in a reduced gravity environment? If you think of everything floating, you cannot just go in a traditional toilet, so this flexible membrane commode Monica was working on was testing one of these systems to validate some of modeling we have done."

Okon's background made her a good fit to manage the project, Hall says. So Okon oversaw it "from design to creation"--a task that showed her to apply what she has learned at Ohio State.

"It's my responsibility to make sure that the stuff is done, because if it doesn't get done, then I delay the project," Okon says.

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