The third annual TRAX International STEM internship kickoff took place at White Sands Missile Range June 1. The event was held to welcome 10 new interns who began and eight week program working on projects at WSMR, Holloman Air Force Base, and Center for Countermeasures.
“You are a very elite group and we’re counting on you and hopefully you’ll consider Test and Evaluation as a profession you would like to pursue,” said Patricia Holguin-Lucero, director of operations and compliance for TRAX International in El Paso.
The daylong kickoff consisted of an orientation of the range, a luncheon, a tour of facilities, and obtaining CAC cards. Several key WSMR leaders took part in the kickoff and provided a few words of guidance during the luncheon.
“It is incumbent on you to take this opportunity with extreme seriousness and make the most of this opportunity. Leverage your mentors,” said WSMR Executive Director Paul Mann. “Our goal is to be there and support you. I believe there are 100s of 1,000s of people who want the opportunity to get a little dose of working on the research and development test range. There are some pretty extraordinary things we are doing here.”
The interns were selected from five surrounding universities. Ngozi Ochoa, a Univeristy of Texas at El Paso Ph.D. student who will be working out of Holloman, said she had heard great things about the internship program and decided to apply. Ochoa said she hopes to advance her skills that she has and obtain new skills during the internship. She also feels the internship will help her gain professional experience and give her the experience to network.
Sarah Belchak, a STEM intern from New Mexico Tech who will also be working out of Holloman, said she considers this internship the best kept secret at her university. She said she found out about the internship from a former intern and is glad she did.
“I want to gain practical experience outside of the classroom and I want to be able to make a contribution,” Belchak said.
The luncheon was an opportunity for some the interns to meet previous interns who now work full-time and several of WSMR’s leadership.
“We look forward to all of the STEM students working with us this year,” said WSMR Director of Range Operations Gilbert Harding. “Let’s break some bread, have a little camaraderie, and talk.”
During the luncheon, Holguin-Lucero said the application process for the internship was a very stringent one and the 10 individuals who were chosen should be proud.