Natalie Fout, a Secondary Math Education Major at Glenville State University, has successfully completed a transformative internship with the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium (WVSGC) during the summer of 2023. Her role as Outreach Coordinator and Launch Director for the West Virginia Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project (WVNEBP) marked a significant contribution to this NASA-funded initiative, bringing together 70 atmospheric science and engineering teams from across the nation.
The WVNEBP, a part of the WVSGC, is gearing up to participate in the ‘paths of ecliptic totality’ during the upcoming annular and total eclipses on October 14th, 2023, and April 8th, 2024. This pioneering project involves launching high-altitude balloons into the stratosphere to collect invaluable atmospheric data and livestream breathtaking video footage.
Under the guidance of NASA Goddard Engineer Marcus Fisher, the West Virginia team, comprising members from West Virginia University, Glenville State University, and Trinity Christian School, is dedicated to the engineering track of the NEBP. Natalie Fout assumed the role of Outreach Coordinator, taking her passion for education and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) to new heights. She traveled extensively across the state, imparting engaging lessons on eclipses, stratospheric ballooning, the NEBP, and engineering processes to K-12 students, thus fostering a deeper understanding of these scientific endeavors.
Furthermore, Natalie served as the Launch Director for the WVNEBP team, demonstrating remarkable leadership and organizational skills. Her responsibilities included crafting meticulous launch day schedules, coordinating team roles, and ensuring the seamless execution of tasks during the crucial launch phases. The October launch will originate from Texas, with the April launch planned in Pennsylvania.
Reflecting on her remarkable journey, Natalie Fout shared her thoughts: “I have had an incredible time this summer working with NASA West Virginia Space Grant. This program has given me the opportunity to learn so many new and exciting concepts. Through my internship, I have become much more confident in my abilities to try new things, be a leader, and think outside the box. I am thankful for my time here and look forward to my future endeavors with NASA WVSGC. Lastly, I am thankful to my home-away-from-home at Glenville State University. They have all been a critical part of my academic, professional, and personal development.”
Natalie Fout’s exceptional dedication and accomplishments during her internship underscore the commitment of Glenville State University to fostering students’ academic and professional growth. Her contributions to the WVNEBP are testament to the exciting prospects that lie ahead in the field of STEM education and space exploration.