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Student combines classes with valuable NASA internship

Dave RasmussenWhen Dave Rasmussen moved from Queens, N.Y., to Virginia Beach, he didn’t expect to find Tidewater Community College. Nor did he expect to intern at NASA.

Both of the unexpected surprises exceeded his expectations, and Rasmussen is on track to graduate from TCC with a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Career Studies Certificate this spring. He is also a participant in NASA’s DEVELOP internship, an interdisciplinary program incubating feasibility Earth science projects.

Interns use GIS and remote sensing data to conduct applications projects in partnership with organizations that can benefit from enhanced decision-making tools. Rasmussen, captain of a four-person team, is part of a project assisting the U.S. Department of Agriculture with placement of future farmland orchards.

“It’s challenging,” Rasmussen said. “We’re working with climate projections, trying to figure out optimal belts for apple orchards.”

Rasmussen devotes 20 hours per week to the paid internship in addition to his three classes. The 10-week NASA program culminates with his team presenting a poster, PowerPoint presentation, technical report, brochure and video. Interns also take part in personal development activities and network opportunities with scientists and partnership organizations.

Rasmussen is grateful to TCC professors Jules Robichaud and Susan Dozier for helping him during the NASA application process. Already the holder of a bachelor’s in geography from State University of New York New Paltz, Rasmussen plans to pursue a career in mapping, geographic information systems and web development.