For Students

Summer Apprenticeship FAQ

Frequently Asked

General Questions

Q: For whom is the apprenticeship designed?
A: The apprenticeship is designed for undergraduate, graduate, veterinary and medical students who have an interest in the space program and space life sciences.

Q: What qualifies a student for eligibility?
A: Applicants must be U.S. citizens and have completed their sophomore year of college by the start of the apprenticeship program. If you are graduating in the spring 2016, you must be actively pursuing application for continued higher education in the fall of 2016 at a qualified educational institution.

Q: What majors can apply?
A: Typical majors of past apprentices include aerospace/astronautics, animal science, anthropology, biochemistry, biological sciences, biomedical engineering, biostatistics, biotechnology, chemistry, counseling, chemical engineering, computer programming, computer science, exercise physiology, food science and technology, genetics, kinesiology, mathematics (applied and theoretical), mechanical engineering, medicine, microbiology, molecular biology, neuroscience, nutrition, pharmacology, physics, psychology/sociology, space studies, statistics, systems biology engineering, and veterinary medicine. Basically, any science field qualifies.

Q: Are the research areas listed on the NSBRI website the research areas to select from for the application?
A: No, the research areas listed on the website are not necessarily areas available during the apprenticeship. Please review the information below on the types of research opportunities available at the three NASA Centers. We do not know what specific areas will be offered for apprentices until the spring.

The Biomedical Research and Environmental Sciences (BR&ES) Division at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) has scientists, clinicians and engineers who 1) conduct applied research focused on understanding the normal human response to spaceflight; and 2) develop, test and deliver countermeasures to maintain crew health during and after long-duration space exploration, including spaceflight and planetary exploration. In addition, BR&ES personnel work closely with space medicine professionals in the clinical testing and training of astronauts to assure their health and performance during their missions on the International Space Station. BR&ES is made up of a variety of biomedical and environmental science disciplines including: Anthropometry and Biomechanics, Biostatistics, Bone Physiology, Cardiovascular Physiology, Exercise Physiology, EVA Physiology, Food Science, Immunology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Neurosciences, Nutritional Biochemistry, Pharmacotherapeutics, Radiation Biophysics, Psychology, and Toxicology. JSC apprenticeship opportunities are available performing research to help NASA address a variety of spaceflight associated health risks, such as: 1) studying physiological changes from extended exposure to the spaceflight environment; 2) maintaining behavioral health and performance; 3) understanding exposure to ionizing and non-ionizing radiation; 4) providing a safe vehicle and habitat environments; 5) evaluating new technologies for enhancing or assessing astronaut health; 6) evaluation of exercise countermeasures systems and prescriptions; and 7) solving human factors and habitability issues.

The research emphases at NASA Glenn Research Center that often select apprentices include probabilistic simulation of medical event scenarios, lab testing of components for reusable lab-on a-chip devices, computational approaches to simulate human physiological systems, exercise physiology, bone loss, biomechanics and anthropometrics. The NASA Glenn Research Center offers apprenticeship opportunities supporting one or more of the following projects: 1) Computational Modeling uses probabilistic risk analysis to quantify likelihood of negative impacts to crew or mission due to medical events. The project also quantifies the effects of hypo or microgravity on human physiology and anatomy. Current efforts focus on modeling the ability of exercise devices to reduce or eliminate bone loss and muscle deconditioning, and testing the hypothesis that the microgravity fluid shift is the causal agent for permanent vision loss in astronauts. Commonly used tools include MATLAB, Simulink, FLUENT, and OpenSim; 2) Advanced Exercise Concepts designs and tests exercise devices compatible with the restricted volume available in exploration vehicles currently under development. Relevant skills include mechanical design and exercise testing and 3) Exploration Medical Capabilities develops suction devices and advanced oxygen concentrators, with the latter devices utilizing a feedback loop to optimize therapeutic benefit while minimizing spacecraft fire risk. Relevant skills for suction include knowledge of fluid mechanics, including two and three phase flow, particularly in microgravity. Relevant skills for an oxygen concentrator include control loop experience and knowledge of near infrared oxygen sensors.

The research laboratories at NASA Ames Research Center (ARC) that select apprentices are from the discipline areas of radiation biology, gravitational biology, molecular/cellular biology, neuroscience, bone and signaling studies, microbiology, oxidative and nitrosative stress, animal studies, genomics and proteomics. Also available for internships is the Visuomotor Control Laboratory, which investigates the links among perception, action and cognition using eye movements to model the human sensorimotor system. This model supports ARC’s broader research interests in Space Human Factors Engineering and Sensorimotor Adaptation.

Q: Is this a paid apprenticeship?
A: Yes, apprentices receive a stipend of $6,600 to cover summer expenses.

Q: Are travel and housing costs covered for the apprentices?
A: No, the apprentice is responsible for their own travel (both to the NASA center and local travel) and housing costs. We encourage apprentices to room together to lower the expense. This has been successful in the past. Once accepted to the program, you will receive contact information for the other apprentices to consider group housing and options for low-cost housing will be made available by each NASA center.

Q: I’m not from Houston, Cleveland or Moffett Field … where will I live?
A: Apprentices selected for the program will be given information from their NASA center regarding affordable housing near Johnson Space Center, Glenn Research Center or Ames Research Center. The apprentice is responsible for locating housing.

Q: What is the deadline for application?
A: The deadline is December 31. The application, CV or resume, letter of interest, and the letter of recommendation must be uploaded by that date in order to be considered for the program.

Q: What format should the CV or resume, letter of interest, and letter of recommendation be submitted in?
A: All uploads must be in PDF format.

Q: Can I participate in the NSBRI Summer Apprenticeship and still attend summer school?
A: The apprenticeship is a full-time summer commitment for 11 weeks. You must be available during the program dates.

Q: I have another obligation during the summer and will not be able to complete the 11 weeks. Am I eligible?
A: No, apprenticeships are for the full 11 weeks in order for the student to become fully engrained in the laboratory and to provide sufficient time for significant research accomplishments in the mentor’s lab.

Q: I am a student who will be studying for the MCAT during the program dates. Should I still apply?
A: The summer apprenticeship is a full-time commitment. We encourage you to think seriously about the time you will be able to invest in your exam preparation.

Q: If accepted, will I have a say in which lab I work?
A: On the application, there is room for you to list your three top areas of research interest. These areas of interest will be taken into consideration, along with your major and listed skill sets. The final lab/mentor assignment is decided by the NASA center program manager and is approved by the NSBRI program manager.

Q: What should the letter of interest include?
A: The letter of interest should state why you are interested in this program and how the program will help you attain your career goals even if you currently have no plans to pursue space life sciences. Any academic or professional experience or accomplishments can be fleshed out in the letter. This letter must be in PDF format.

Q: Who should write a letter of recommendation for me?
A: In the past, we have received letters of recommendation from professors, mentors, employers, and supervisors. It is to your advantage to have someone write this letter who knows something about you and can speak to your qualities and skills. Generic letters of recommendation score low. This recommendation must be uploaded in PDF format.

Q: What should be covered in the letter of recommendation?
A: The letter of recommendation does not have a set outline. However, we encourage the writers to elaborate on the applicant’s experiences, accomplishments, career goals and personality.

Q: To whom should the letter of recommendation be addressed?
A: The Summer Apprenticeship Program applicant review process is overseen by a program manager. Please address your letter of interest to the Summer Apprenticeship Program Manager.

Q: Will my application be considered complete after I have submitted the online application and uploaded my CV/resume and letter of interest?
A: No, a letter of recommendation must also be received by the deadline for your application to be considered complete. It is the applicant’s responsibility to contact the recommender to insure the letter of recommendation has been uploaded by the application deadline. It is suggested the applicant communicate with the recommender to insure submission. Do not contact NSBRI to see if the letter has been received.

Q: Can I make changes to my online application after I submit it?
A: No. Once the online application is submitted, it cannot be retrieved. Be sure your CV or resume, letter of interest, and contact information for your letter of recommendation are ready to upload before starting the application process. Once your application is complete, please be sure to print it out before you close the window.

Q: Can I have my letter of recommendation mailed, emailed or faxed rather than having it uploaded?
A: No. Faxed copies, emails, etc., are not acceptable forms for the letter of recommendation.

Accepted Applicants

Q: When should I expect to hear back if accepted into the program?
A: Selected applicants typically receive an acceptance letter anywhere from mid-February to early March.

Q. What type of work occurs in the labs?
A. Projects may involve the following, depending upon the lab’s needs: basic research, literature research, data collection, data management or analysis, biostatistics, computer programming, computer modeling, formulation of results, and writing of abstracts, white papers, technical bulletins or manuscripts. Once accepted to the program and assigned a mentor, it is incumbent on the apprentices to make contact with the mentors and begin planning a project utilizing the apprentices specific skill sets to aid the mentor’s research project.

Q: How will I know who else is accepted to the program so I can possibly discuss housing options that include other apprentices.
A: Once all apprentice positions have been filled, contact information for the group will be sent to all in the program. We encourage apprentices to get to know each other prior to the apprenticeship and consider rooming together to save money.

Q: Can I use this apprenticeship to satisfy my institution’s graduation requirement of an internship?
A: Yes. If your educational institution approves our program, the Summer Apprenticeship Program manager will complete required documents for your institution. It is the responsibility of the apprentice to discuss this possibility with the educational institution and to make sure the program manager is provided with the necessary documents and process for submission. The credit hours come from your institution. This program provides a minimum of 440 contact hours.

Q: What is the dress code in the lab?
A: We require our apprentices to follow casual dress and OSHA standards for dress (i.e. long pants, closed-toe shoes, and no shorts, midriffs or flip flops). Alternate appropriate dress will be up to the discretion of your NASA mentor.

Q: Are health and dental insurance provided?
A: No, the program does not provide health or dental insurance. You are not an employee of NSBRI or NASA during this apprenticeship. You are a student receiving a stipend. However, medical facilities are available near your lab. All apprentices are required to provide proof of medical insurance for the apprenticeship period. A low-cost, short-term medical insurance option will be offered to those who need it.

Q: I participated in the NSBRI Summer Apprenticeship Program before, but would like to apply again. Am I eligible?
A: Yes. You must fully repeat the application process. However, there is no guarantee that you will be accepted as this is a competitive process.

Applicants Not Selected

Q: When should I expect to hear back if I’m not accepted into the program?
A: Applicants will be notified via email in mid-March or before if they are not accepted.

Q: Why was my application not selected?
A: Unfortunately, we cannot select all of the excellent applicants we receive. We take into account education strengths and accomplishments, research experience, skill sets, interests, career and education goals, and research matches at the NASA centers.