Computer Science Senior Jason Boccuti Accepts Internship With Airforce/NASA
Ever wonder what happened to the folkloric visions of the future—you know, the ones with flying cars and floating heliopods and “Jetsons”-esque robotic servants? We can’t promise you your very own Rosie, but one senior computer science student will be working with the Air Force and NASA on a very futuristic internship this summer: Jason Boccuti ’15 has recently been accepted to the Discovery Lab Summer At The Edge Internship at the Wright Brothers Institute where he will further explore, improve, and develop existing virtual reality technology.
Boccuti is one of just three interns participating in a collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the NASA Glenn Research Center that will work to improve a virtual infrastructure on which real-live experiments (think rover missions and deep sea explorations) can be modeled in the virtual world to be viewed, altered, and run by scientists and engineers around the world. He will be working alongside other NASA employees at the research center in Dayton, Ohio.
“We’re blurring the line between the physical and virtual worlds in terms of experimentation and collaboration,” says Boccuti, who will begin preparing for his summer with NASA on Feb. 16 with a 10-week virtual reality academy. “There are so many ways to use virtual reality in our everyday lives, but NASA wants to explore this so, one day, engineers on Earth can collaborate on missions with astronauts in space. It’s an interest that could span across planets.”
We’re blurring the line between the physical and virtual worlds in terms of experimentation and collaboration.”
– Jason Boccuti '15
In this virtual world called OpenSim, participants can communicate, build models and perform experiments in a variety of lifelike environments—gravitational pull and all. For 10 weeks over the summer, Boccuti will use his computer science training to code and script movement and action within OpenSim. His work will hopefully serve as an early stepping stone to a larger trial-and-error system for NASA experiments, he says.
The internship marries Boccuti’s career interests as a programmer with his academic passion for astronomy. “The idea working for something that would actually advance technology for human kind is really exciting,” he said. “A lot of people end up joining existing projects in their internships, but with this I feel like I’m doing something that’s new and game-changing.”
And that interest was all Boccuti needed to —that, and a two minute, fifty-seven second YouTube video that answered a series of 12 questions. “They didn’t see my resume until I was already accepted—I think it meant more than I was really interested in the project and was able to follow directions and be resourceful with the video.”
That’s right, no formal application—just a tip from an anonymous alumnus and encouragement from department chair Ben Coleman “I’ve never met the alumnus that told Dr. Coleman about the Discovery Lab internship program, but it makes me realize that I have real options as a Moravian College graduate in this huge industry.”
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