The NASA Academy is a phenomenal program created by Dr. Gerald Soffen in 1993 to emulate the ISU model and help train promising up-and-coming scientists for future leadership at NASA. Participants work in the labs side-by-side with NASA PIs on all kinds of wild projects. At Goddard these were usually DDF projects, meaning they were way out on the bleeding edge of research. I worked Program Support and ISU Liaison for the 2002 Goddard Academy, but essentially went through the program myself, except that my project was reviewing a decade’s worth of DDF projects for the Technology Transfer Office. I got to see write-ups of the early days of LIDAR, and expeditions to potential crater locations in South America. Our Academy visited HQ, Wallops, Langley, KSC, & JSC, even Congressional hearings, taking behind-the-scenes tours to find out about the myriad things that NASA does, and the complexity of trying to manage it.
If you are a promising scientist or engineer (about grad school level) make sure to apply for a truly unique summer experience! If you know of any budding young scientists or engineers, let them know about the Academy so they can have the opportunity to try to add it to their resume!
[Full Disclosure: I’m an honorary member of the NASA Academy Alumni Association (since I was technically staff, not RA)]