West Virginia Wesleyan College

Department of Physics and Engineering

Summer Internships


We are pleased that our students are quite successful in obtaining paid summer internships, either on campus or at other locations.


Internships at Wesleyan


Internships Beyond Wesleyan



Summer 2013


NASA-Langley—Will George and Mark Mattis have internships in aerospace engineering working with alumnus Chris Kuhl. They are analyzing performance data transmitted from the heat shield of the Mars rover Curiosity that landed August 5, 2012.


NASA-Langley—Russell Gillespie has an internship in aerospace engineering, working to design continuous flaps for supersonic jets.


NASA-Glenn—Jacob Poldruhi’s internship involves logistics and operations at the Space Academy. Jacob will schedule meetings with aerospace professionals, planning colloquia, and planning visits to other NASA sites and companies such as Boeing and SpaceX.


NASA Fellowships—Matt Spicer and Conor Forrester are working at the West Virginia Forest Products Company. The goals are to study ways to reduce energy usage, to investigate new product ideas, and to investigate ways to improve environmental protection. Funding is provided through the University-Industry Program of the WV-NASA Space Grant Consortium.


WVU Neuroscience SURI Program—Dillon Huffman is working with Dr. Gritsenko to investigate how the body’s nervous system controls movement. Dillon will be using electronic sensors and 3-dimensional modeling. This research could lead the development of touch-sensitive prosthetics. In addition, Dillon will collaborate with a team at George Mason University to develop an exoskeleton prosthetic.


NSF Electrical Engineering Program at Penn State—Amy Hein’s project will involve the next generation of MRI equipment.


Marathon Oil—Amber Stewart has an internship in chemical engineering at Marathon’s facility in Catlettsburg, Ky.


WV Division of Highways—Nick Jones has an internship in civil engineering.



Internships beyond Wesleyan—

Previous summers


0804101307Walter Reed Army Medical Center—Wesley Hughes had a summer internship in prosthetics design at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Wesley’s leg had been amputated due to an accident while skiing. He designed a prosthetic for himself. He reports, “"The components I used were the Total Knee 2100 and the Flex-Run foot, both by Ossur, an Icelandic company. Here’s a photo the running leg I designed for myself.”


Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson—This was the second summer Rachel Haas worked for Raytheon. Rachel reports, “My job was to update a section of simulation computer code that simulates weapons systems. My updated code will be released to use by everyone in the company. I gave a presentation of my work at a meeting of all the department managers. The supervising manager wants to bring me back again next summer.”

Cleveland Clinic Medical Physics—Kate Turner’s fellowship was sponsored by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine. She reports, “I worked on two projects with the chief medical physicist. My first project was a study of setup errors in patients with gynecological tumors. My second project compared three types of radiatioin therapies for prostate cancer. I was able to network with medical physicists from all around the world.”

Natural Gas Internship—Wes Marsh had an internship at Energy Corp of America. His project involved finding ways to improve the ground preparation at sites where Marcellus shale drilling rigs were placed. We found a more cost-effective technique to keep the ground safe for large trucks. We also found improved materials used on the work surface to contain spills and improve traction. Wes is pursuing an M.S. in Industrial Engineering at WVU.


vincent 4.12NASA Fellowship—Petroleum. Denny Vincent used a GIS to update a database of their gas wells for Energy Corporation of America. Denny works as a Petroleum Engineer at Weatherford in Weston.


Huffman 8.10National Institute of Health Internship at WVU. Dillon Huffman studied carbon nanotubes, which are long narrow allotropes of carbon in a seamless cylindrical structure. Their unique electrical and physiochemical properties make nanotubes a desirable material in electronics, bioengineering, and medicine. We studied their effect on five different cell lines that were genetically modified to overexpress several antioxidants.


PowellNSF--Wein filter research at Jefferson National Lab.

Robert Powell modified the Wein filter on new beam line that was installed at the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF). This resulted in better control over the direction of the electron’s spin. Bobby is a field engineer Bechtel-Bettis in Pittsburgh.


NSF—Beat frequency oscillator modification at Jefferson National Lab. Heather Graffius modified the BFM circuit at the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) at Jefferson National Lab. The electron beam was generated by lasers pulsing at 499 MHz, synchronous with the radio-frequency cavities of the accelerator. Experiments at CEBAF can benefit by decreasing the frequency to allow the detectors to better distinguish the signal from the background, which the new BFM circuit accomplished.




Internships beyond Wesleyan—

Previous summers


A picture of a student resting his foot on a moving rock in Death Valley National Park.NASA-Goddard—Devon Miller reports, “I worked on a lunar dust mitigation project. To permit astronauts to spend more time in space, lunar dust needs to be better controlled. We also took a week-long trip to Racetrack Playa in Death Valley, California, to study the phenomena of the roving rocks. The rocks move around on the almost flat surface of a dried up lake bed. The rocks leave behind trails that are hundreds of feet long. No one has ever witnessed this happening. We took measurements of the moving trails to form a hypothesis on the mechanisms required to move the rocks. National Geographic magazine wrote an article on this project, which included this photo of me.” Devon is working on an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Alabama.


pictureNASA-Goddard—Jackie Queen studied inflationary cosmology and the cosmic microwave background. She contributed to POINCARE, an experiment that will place instruments at multiple observatories to cover nearly the full sky to measure polarization in the cosmic microwave background.


NASA-Glenn—Jacob Poldruhi’s project involved the

Trash-to-Supply-Gas Task. As mankind ventures out to explore the solar system, it is critical to efficiently utilize raw materials. For example, plastic waste must be recycled into useful materials such as water and fuel. Our project developed a process to begin the recycling process of organic waste materials into raw materials needed to support human habitation beyond Earth.



Jacob meets astronaut Gregory H. Johnson, who flew on Space Shuttle flights 123 and 134.


NSF Electrical Engineering Program at Penn State—For each of the past seven years, one Wesleyan student has worked on the nuclear quadrupole resonance project with Dr. Jeffrey Schiano and Wesleyan alumnus Tom Tyson. These students are Jazmyne Claggett, Jacob Wilson, Michael Scruggs, Devon Miller, Mike Murphy, Jackie Queen, and Tom Tyson. (Tom is working on a Ph.D. with Dr. Schiano.) They studied modifications to the Robinson marginal oscillator circuit. Their research could be applied to the pharmaceuticals industry or to detect roadside bombs.


NSF Materials Science Program at Florida State University—Chera Rogers experience in Materials Science. She worked on a theoretical study of impurities using random-walk theory.


Jason JacksonCivil Engineering Coop with WV Division of HighwaysJason reports, “I was fortunate to have a boss who had just acquired his professional engineering license. He was eager to get me as much experience as he could during the summer.” Jason is working on an M.S. in Civil Engineering at WVU.


NSF Research at WVU—Jason Jackson worked with Dr. Jeremy Dawson on an optical biosensor project. Jason’s project used photonic crystals, which have a structure that keeps out light of a particular frequency.


Nuclear internship at Westinghouse--Bobby Powell worked alongside two engineers at the Westinghouse Nuclear Power Design Facility in Cranberry, Pa. Bobby reports, “I updated the egress report for the AP1000 power plant. I also compared specs of three similar designs, and researched new technology for future plant designs.”

NSF—Atmospheric Physics research at Penn State—Thunderstorm charge configuration. Heather Graffius applied the equivalence principle to model the changes in the electrical structure of a thunderstorm caused by lightning strikes. She modeled the electric field changes following a variation of charge before and after a lightning strike to prove the validity of the equivalence principle. Heather is working on an M.S. in Atmospheric Physics at Creighton University.


Mike MurphyNASA—National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Greenbank, WV—Mike Murphy’s objective was to constructed an improved small diameter radio telescope. The typical design uses a superheterodyne receiver and consists of four primary blocks: a low-noise amplifier, a band-pass filter, a mixer, and a local oscillator. Mike made measurements on the Sun and Jupiter and of the galactic rotation curves.


Energy Audit at West Virginia Split Rail. Matt Stadelman performed an energy audit at this local industrial operation. Matt measured the electrical usage of the large industrial motors at West Virginia Split Rail using infrared thermometers and ammeters. His objective was to find methods of reducing the peak electrical demand that occurs when the motors are turned on, and writing an instruction manual for starting the motors in a way that minimizes operating costs. West Virginia Split Rail will gain long-term cost savings from Matt’s work. His mentors were Mike Hinkle at West Virginia Split Rail and Mark Winnett at Tioga Resources, an engineering consulting firm in Bridgeport.



Dr. Wiest, Mark Winnett, Matt Stadelman, and Dr. Popson


Grateful acknowledgements


Funding for NASA Fellowships is provided by the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium. Funding for SURE Grants is provided by the WV Higher Education Policy Commision.