Earth to Curiosity Rover: Budget Systems Go!
While NASA’s robotic rover Curiosity was exploring Mars and analyzing soil samples for the agency’s Science Laboratory mission, Gallaudet senior Nathan Engel was performing his own research at NASA headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C., reviewing cost projections for the historic space mission.

Nathan was part of a nine-member team —and the only college intern working on the project in the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, NASA’s budget division. The business administration major discovered the internship opportunity through the Gallaudet University Career Center and was accepted to NASA’s competitive internship program.

“There is more to NASA than astronomy,” said the New York native, whose major concentrations are finance and human resources. “NASA is a huge agency, so there are varied internship and career opportunities.” He also found the experience to be far more engaging than passively crunching numbers. “Interning with NASA, I wasn’t stuck in a cubical; I actually interacted with people,” said Nathan.

One of the major projects Nathan worked on was the Historical Data Book series, a comprehensive statistical summary providing a financial landscape of NASA’s resources, including budget, personnel, installations, programs, and projects, dating back to 1958. Nathan worked on Volume VIII in the series, published last fall, which covers 1989-1998. He created a budget chart showing NASA’s annual expenditures during that time period. The chart, along with information from the NASA regional centers, helped Nathan assist with the two-year budget plan for operating and scientific research costs of the rover Curiosity on Mars.

“The chart shows the steady increase of inflation costs, as well as how much money was spent in specific years in comparison so that NASA can give a good estimate for future appropriations, too,” said Nathan. He added, “I had opportunities to develop my own recommendations based on the historical data of what they can do for future projects.”

“The internship at NASA was rewarding,” said Nathan. “You really hone the skills you need, such as communication and navigating a budget plan. I also discovered I am best suited in an office with numbers and with people. Doing an internship with NASA and Merrill Lynch the previous summer allowed me to see that.”

Nathan graduates in May and is considering pursuing a master’s degree in business administration. He is also considering a career in sports administration.
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