West Virginia University students Jason Gross and Rebecca McCauley are looking forward to experiences this summer that should help them achieve their career dreams.

The two have been selected for separate National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) internship programs based at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Gross and McCauley are two of many West Virginia college students who will be working at NASA agencies or engaging in NASA -sponsored research projects this summer and next year, said Majid Jaraiedi, director of the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium, located in WVU s College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. All of this years award recipients will be announced and honored at a ceremony and reception at WVU on April 26.

These programs assist us in fulfilling our mission to improve our states competitiveness in research and education in science, math and engineering disciplines,said Jaraiedi.We are very proud of Jason, Becky and all of our students.

Gross, the out-going WVU Student Government Association president and a mechanical and aerospace engineering major from Morgantown, is one of only 20 students in the nation to be selected for the prestigious NASA Academy at Goddard.

The Academy develops future leaders of the space program. It offers participants a unique experience involving laboratory research, group projects, lectures, meetings with experts and administrators, visits to NASA centers and space-related industries, technical writing and presentations. Students discover how NASA and its centers operate, gain experience in world-class laboratories, participate in a team environment and build professional bonds.

I am being considered for two different projects, both of which are related to the James Webb Space Telescope Project,Gross said.Im excited to be a part of this.

Gross is a member of the Mortar Board Senior Honorary and of Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honorary. He will graduate in December 2007 and then plans to attend graduate school.

I want to earn a doctorate in aerospace engineering,Gross said.My dream is to be a NASA scientist. Im hoping the NASA Academy will be a step on the road toward that goal.

McCauley, a biology and chemistry major from Morgantown, was awarded an internship with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Centers Student Internship Program. She will be at the Center from June 14-Aug. 10 assisting a team that is working on optimizing a method to analyze Mars dust for organic compounds. The project may be part of a mission to go to Mars in 2010, McCauley said.

Im very excited,she said.Itll be a great opportunity to work with a lot of people, learn and have fun while building new experiences. Ill be right there in the action.

Last spring, McCauley achieved what no other WVU student has before: She managed to become a Goldwater and Truman Scholar the same year.

In addition, she has assisted with research projects at WVU , working with Dr. Jonathan Cumming, chair and an associate professor in the Department of Biology, to study how fungi react to metals such as aluminum.

McCauley is also serving as president of the WVU American Chemical Society Student Affiliates, through which she has helped conduct chemistry demonstrations at elementary schools and volunteered as a tutor at WVU s Chemistry Learning Center.

Following graduation, she plans to work in AmeriCorps for a year, then attend graduate school for astrobiology. She wants to study extremophiles, organisms which live in extreme environments. She hopes to work for NASA , doing research on terraforming. Her ultimate goal is to join the astronaut program.

The NASA Space Grant Consortium awards a wide variety of internships and research fellowships to students and faculty from WVU and 10 other member institutions for a host of summer internships, research grants and other opportunities.

For more information, contact Candy Cordwell at Candy.Cordwell@mail.wvu.edu or 304-293-4099, ext. 3738.