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Charles City alum earns NASA internship

Charles City alum earns NASA internship
Brody Tupy
By James Grob,

Many college students have their minds on a summer vacation filled with fun and relaxation, some parties, and maybe a part-time job to help pay a few bills.

Brody Tupy’s mind will instead be preoccupied with helping to determine what materials might be used on the next NASA spacecraft crew vehicle.

“My dream job is to work at NASA, so getting this internship — I couldn’t turn it down,” said Tupy, a junior at Loras College in Dubuque who majors in engineering. “When I went into engineering, I just thought working in space and with NASA seems like the ultimate experience. Just working with the technology that they have — you’re designing stuff that’s going into space.”

Tupy has been selected for a prestigious paid internship with NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. He said his job will either be on the spacecraft window inspection team or working on contamination identifications.

“I was really excited about it. The crew that I’ll be working with is designing parts for spacecraft that will go into space,” said Tupy, a 2016 graduate of Charles City High School. His internship starts June 3 and lasts 10 weeks, then he will return for his senior year at Loras.

He said he already has been in frequent contact with NASA, doing a number of teleconferences in preparation of the job.

He said his studies at Loras are on the electro-mechanical engineering track, while the internship is actually more closely related to the chemistry field.

“I’ve been getting with chemistry professors to lay a base of knowledge, so I’m not going there completely inexperienced,” he said.

Tupy said he applied for the internship in partnership with the Iowa Space Grant Consortium (ISGC) through Iowa State University.

“Loras has a partnership with them that helps students through the process,” he said. “They work to try and find mentors that will work with you and place you.”

Tupy said a program director sent out his application, a mentor was interested and he received an offer very quickly.

“It was crazy how fast it was. I was very surprised,” Tupy said. “I finished the application on the first of April and they called me on the third. I definitely wasn’t expecting it. I thought, ‘well, they pick somebody, so why not throw my hat in the ring?’ It worked out.”

The ISGC has funded 49 internship placements since 2012. The group funds students in varying disciplines, from aerospace and chemical engineering to elementary education and industrial design. Students from Drake, Iowa, and Iowa State are placed at eight NASA host centers including Ames, Marshall, Langley and Johnston.

NASA Internships are competitive awards to support educational opportunities that provide NASA-related research and operational experiences for high school, undergraduate, and graduate students, as well as educators. These opportunities “serve students by integrating interns with career professionals emphasizing mentor-directed, degree-related tasks, while contributing to the operation of a NASA facility or the advancement of NASA’s missions,” according to information on NASA’s website.

Tupy’s parents, James and Annette Tupy, live in Floyd, while he has grandparents in both Charles City and Nora Springs. His sister, Michaela, is a 2014 CCHS grad who now works in Clear Lake.

Tupy said his interest in science and engineering was sparked back in high school at CCHS, and it was a senior physics class that drew him toward the engineering field.

“All the science teachers at Charles City got me really excited about the sciences,” he said. “It was always something I really loved, and everyone was always very supportive.”

Tupy participated in several activities while in high school, including football, track, golf and wrestling — and he is on the wrestling team at Loras. He also took part in speech and drama.

“Extra-curricular involvement is huge,” he advised. “Companies and colleges are looking at your applications. They want to see a well-rounded person.”

He said that anyone interested in following his progress this summer at NASA can track him on the ISGC website.

“Halfway through the internship I’ll be submitting an article, and they’ll be posting it on the page,” Tupy said. “People can keep up with what I’m doing and what I’ve been working on.”