At Ohio State, Monica Okon is a senior majoring in biological engineering.
But this summer at NASA's John Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Okon wore a different hat: project manager. She oversaw the design and creation of a toilet that will work in a space shuttle's zero gravity atmosphere.
"One of the neat things about NASA is we have to look at all aspects of interaction of the astronauts up in space," says Nancy Hall, a NASA research scientist who supervised Okon.
"For example, how do you handle an astronaut going into the bathroom in a reduced gravity environment? If you think of everything floating, you cannot just go in a traditional toilet, so this flexible membrane commode Monica was working on was testing one of these systems to validate some of modeling we have done."
Okon's background made her a good fit to manage the project, Hall says. So Okon oversaw it "from design to creation" -- a task that showed her to apply what she has learned at Ohio State.
"It's my responsibility to make sure that the stuff is done, because if it doesn't get done, then I delay the project," Okon says.
More than 6,000 Ohio State undergrads get college credit for internships or co-ops each year. Students benefit from real-world experience and get a resume boost--and many, like Okon, leave their jobs with a connection to a career mentor.
"I really cherish my relationship with Nancy. I think of her as a true role model. She is a great mentor. She's taught me so much, how to carry yourself in the workplace," Okon says.
"NASA's been great. It's really helped reaffirm my sense of why I wanted to remain an engineer, why I wanted to contribute something to a greater good."
This blog is committed to sharing good news about people of African descent each and every Tuesday ... we call it Good News Tuesday and I wish that other bloggers would join this weekly meme!
Anyhow, what is your impression of Monica Okon? Do you understand why we included in her our Good News Tuesday meme?