Since 2013, we have employed more than 50 college-level students in aerospace projects related to materials science, planetary geology, robotics and computer programming. Many of our interns have gone on to secure competitive internships and grant fellowships, as well as employment opportunities at companies like Google, Apple and NASA. Meet some of our outstanding students below who made a difference at PISCES and continue to reach for the stars.
Krystal Schlechter interned with PISCES in 2013 through the Akamai Workforce Initiative’s summer internship program. With a background in Lunar Impact Monitoring, she collected data for NASA’s LADEE (Lunar and Atmospheric Dust Environment Explorer) mission along with former PISCES Logistics/EPO Manager, John Hamilton. Together, they measured meteor strikes on the far side of the Moon using two telescopes equipped with high-speed video cameras. Completing her internship with a bang, Schlechter and her mentor flew to Virginia to witness the launch of the LADEE spacecraft into space. LADEE was a $263 million project designed to unlock the mysteries of the Moon’s fragile atmosphere. Schlechter’s work assisted in the larger effort of figuring out how humans can live on the Moon for sustained periods of time.
During 2013 and 2014, Melissa Adams interned with PISCES characterizing planetary analog test sites and researching Hawaii’s volcanic basalt, comparing it with Martian rocks in conjunction with NASA. In the summer of 2014, she was selected for NASA’s prestigious Sally Ride internship program at Johnson Space Center. Adams graduated from University of Hawaii at Hilo in December 2014 and was offered contract work at NASA JSC with Jacob’s Technology.
In Summer 2014, Christina Cauley was tasked with conducting geological surveys of Hawaii Island to seek out new analog test sites—sites used to evaluating planetary surface systems and robotics. She graduated from UH Hilo with majors in geology and anthropology and a minor in biology. In Summer 2015, she was selected for NASA’s OSSI internship grant and worked with the Good Earth Project, an international effort tasked with collecting and applying satellite data from the International Space Station for humanitarian causes. She credits her summer internship experience at PISCES with building her confidence and exposing her to space research.
Kyla Edison interned with PISCES for three consecutive years and was offered a staff position at PISCES for her geology research. Edison is a UH Hilo graduate and Hawaii Space Grant winner who is passionate about geology and her experiences conducting field surveys, planetary geology analysis and basalt sintering research have made her an ideal mentor for incoming students. Kyla supported NASA’s BASALT Mars research project in 2016, assisting a simulated Mars astronaut mission by an international team of scientists at Mauna Ulu on Hawaii Island. She also supported the PISCES Women’s STARS Program for two consecutive summers, leading hikes and presentations to inspire local high school women in STEM fields.
Aaron Roth is a Waiakea High School graduate who interned with PISCES in 2016 and 2017 developing a stereoscopic imaging system for the Helelani rover. Roth studied computer science at Arizona State University and graduated in 2019. After interning with PISCES, he was offered an internship at Jim Bell’s imaging lab at ASU, and went on to intern at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. In his senior year at ASU, he was offered a job at JPL working on imaging systems for NASA’s Mars rovers.
Lily Leyva is a Keaau High School graduate who attended the PISCES Women’s STARS Program in 2016 and was inspired to pursue Aerospace Engineering. She interned with PISCES in 2017 on the Materials Science Team and successfully designed and 3D printed a new planetary building block that can be created by sintering volcanic basalt. She also programmed the PISCES UAV as part of a project with Hawaii Ant Lab and the County of Hawaii Dept. of Research and Development. Lily is studying Aerospace Engineering at University of Colorado Boulder.