UArizona Space Grant Undergraduate Internships

Attention University of Arizona Current & Future Undergraduate Students

Intern & Mentor Applications Now Open! Apply by June 30th

The UArizona NASA Space Grant Internship Program is an opportunity to challenge yourself, learn new skills, and receive hands-on training in an exciting STEM field!

Can you imagine yourself working with a faculty mentor to develop an autonomous vehicle that will explore caves on Mars? What about studying the effects of zero-gravity on muscles and other organ systems; studying the effects of climate change on planet Earth; or even devising a system for mining fuel from a Martial atmosphere? 

Imagine no more. The UArizona NASA Space Grant Internship Program places UArizona undergraduate students in paid research opportunities for up to 20 hours per week during the academic year. Students work alongside practicing scientists on exciting cutting-edge research. We seek a diverse group of students that are dedicated, enthusiastic, and eager to learn. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to participate in this NASA program - all STEM majors and those interested in STEM are welcome!

If you're ready for a challenge, then make sure to apply during the next round of open internships. For more information, contact Michelle Coe, Arizona Space Grant Manager, at PG4gdWVycz0iem52eWdiOnpucGJyQG5ldm1iYW4ucnFoIj56bnBickBuZXZtYmFuLnJxaDwvbj4=.

Future Interns & Mentors

The UArizona NASA Space Grant Undergraduate Internship Program is just one of the many programs that AZSGC offers. The goals of the Internship Program are to provide an opportunity for undergraduate students to work alongside a mentor on a research, research & development, science writing, science policy, or science education experience.  In addition, the Internship Program provides UArizona undergraduates who are exploring career options the opportunity to broaden their education with rich, hands-on experience and the full process of inquiry and discovery. Space Grant internships integrate research with education to help build our future NASA workforce by creating a diverse, scientifically literate, and well-prepared STEM community.

Eligibility

We are seeking student applicants that meet the following criteria:

  • U.S. Citizenship per NASA (federal) funding requirements.
  • Enrolled in 9 units or more at the University of Arizona during the Fall and Spring semester of the award year.
    • While there is no limit on the maximum number of academic credit hours you may take during the award year, we strongly recommend against taking more than 12 units per semester during the time of your internship. Participation in the program can be rigorous and time management is key to a successful internship.
  • Undergraduate Sophomore, Junior, or Senior academic standing at the start of the award year.
  • Enrolled in any STEM major, or has an interest in pursuing a STEM career.
  • We especially encourage applications from those traditionally underrepresented in STEM.
  • Prior research experience is not required, nor is it required to have a mentor at the time of application. If you are selected for the program and did not indicate a mentor match on your application, the committee will match you with the best possible project based on your interests, skills, needs, and more. 
  • Effective July 1, 2023: Space Grant interns are hired as UArizona student employees and are placed in various research positions. Student employees in a Security- or Safety-Sensitive position, or who disclose a felony conviction, will be subject to a fingerprint-based criminal record background check per UArizona HR policy.

Duration & Award

The internship is for one academic year and runs from the first week of September to the first week of May. Upon acceptance of the program, interns are hired as University of Arizona student employees. Interns may work up to 20 hours per week, but must work a minimum of 160 hours during the academic year (a minimum of 5 hours per week). Interns' weekly hours may fluctuate and work schedules can be built around their class schedule and the needs of the project/mentor. Interns are paid $15.50 per hour for the academic year 2024-25, thus award totals vary depending on how many hours the intern commits to the program. 

What to Expect

Once applications are received and reviewed, all intern applicants will be contacted in late July / early August to inform them if they were awarded an internship or not. Awardees must accept their internship by the given deadline. Internships may take place with a faculty mentor on campus or with a professional/program affiliate in government, industry, or non-profit sectors on or off-campus. Interns are matched with mentors and research projects that relate to one or more NASA Mission Directorates (MDs). Mentors will provide interns with 5-20 hours per week of meaningful internship work which must include a specific project or problem for the intern to solve. Projects do not have to be completed by the end of the program year, but interns must have a tangible "piece of the project puzzle" that they can actively work on throughout their internship, and then present on that work during the Symposium. Internship work hours may include background reading, attendance at team/relevant meetings, field work, and especially data collection, processing, and analysis. Additional goals and requirements will be defined and agreed upon by intern/mentor matches when they establish a working relationship at the beginning of the academic year.

Internships begin with an orientation at the start of the Fall semester and culminate with a statewide Student Research Symposium at the end of the Spring semester. These two meetings are mandatory for Space Grant interns, and interns must attend and present a formal abstract and PowerPoint presentation at the Symposium. During the academic year, interns will be asked to participate in a mid-semester check-in, complete evaluations, and will be invited to monthly Space Grant events. These requirements and events are in addition to the research that you and your mentor conduct, which will be defined by intern and mentor and the needs of the research project.

This program's success largely depends on an intern and mentor working together to build a clear outline of responsibilities, setting up consistent forms of communication and regular meeting times, and setting weekly goals that are then followed up on each week. While the research project and the intern's responsibilities may change over time, it is important to have both short and long-term goals clearly defined and written down.

This internship is a challenging work experience. It is a firm commitment by both the intern and mentor for the student's research and education. A Space Grant internship will involve these phases:

  • The learning curve: learning new equipment, software, and perhaps even the topic itself
  • Defining the context: stating the problem, posing the hypothesis, and setting the educational objective(s)
  • Determining the methodology: defining your experimental design, data collection, etc.
  • Conducting the work: this may include data collection, analysis, fabrication, application development, testing, teaching, reporting, and writing
  • Compiling the results: your data synthesis, code implementation, evaluations, and more
  • Interpretation: reviewing what happened and determining what it may mean
  • Formal presentation: all students conclude their internship by presenting at our statewide Student Research Symposium

Timeline of Program Year

June 30, 2024: Intern & Mentor applications due at midnight (MST).

Late July - August: Interns notified of selection for the program; must respond to confirm their participation by given deadline. 

September: Intern orientation; internship begins.

December: Mid-year evaluation due from interns and mentors.

March: Interns must submit a 150-word abstract for the AZSGC student research Symposium; mentors must review/approve this abstract.

April: Interns must attend and present a PowerPoint presentation for the AZSGC statewide Student Research Symposium. 

May: Conclusion of internship.

Is this program virtual or in person?

Internships may be virtual, in person, or a combination of both. On the mentor application, mentors are asked to describe research tasks and location of work so that the Space Grant Committee may match an intern to those needs and requirements. Once matched, interns and mentors may work together to come up with a schedule that works for them and the research project requirements during the program year. Please note, most Space grant monthly events are in person, and the statewide Student Research Symposium is in person with no virtual component. Interns must attend the Symposium event.

Overview

An undergraduate internship experience can be a crucial factor in encouraging future scientists and engineers. It also serves as an important role in promoting a deeper understanding of what work in various STEM fields actually entails. A positive and exciting internship experience alongside a committed mentor can play an important role in ensuring students remain in the STEM pipeline, and you can be key to that experience. Space Grant mentors have an opportunity to make an important contribution to encouraging UArizona students to pursue STEM, while also benefiting their own research project(s) by being matched with a smart and motivated student. 

Mentor Eligibility

Arizona Space Grant Consortium (AZSGC) affiliates, and University of Arizona affiliates, faculty, staff, research scientists, post-docs, and Tucson industry professionals interested in mentoring motivated undergraduate students are eligible to apply as mentors. Mentors with underrepresented identities in STEM are strongly encouraged to apply. 

What a Mentor Provides

Potential mentors must work on research projects that relate to one or more NASA Mission Directorates (MDs). However, please note that NASA's research interests are broad and relate to many STEM fields. Mentors must be able to provide 5-20 hours per week (September - May) of meaningful work appropriate for an undergraduate student. Note that students' prior experience working on research projects may vary. Interns must be able to contact a mentor as needed and should have one-on-one meetings with a mentor at least once a week. Mentors may work collaboratively with post docs, graduate students, etc. in their workplace to provide a more robust mentorship experience to an intern. Mentors do not need to be the only individual mentoring an intern; this can be indicated in the mentor application. 

Meaningful internship work must include a specific project or problem for your intern to solve. Projects do not have to be completed by the end of the program year, but interns must have a tangible "piece of the project puzzle" that they can actively work on throughout their internship, and then present on that work during the annual AZSGC Student Research Symposium. Internship work hours may include background reading, attendance at team/relevant meetings, field work, and especially data collection, processing, and analysis. 

This program's success largely depends on a mentor providing a clear outline of responsibilities to an intern, setting up consistent forms of communication to allow an intern the space to ask questions, involving interns in team meetings, and setting weekly goals with interns that are then followed up on each week. While the research project and the intern's responsibilities may change over time, it is important to have both short and long-term goals clearly defined and written down.

Funding & Cost-Share

This internship is funded by the NASA National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, and whenever possible, through the generous contributions of our mentors. Each year, we are able to extend internship opportunities to a larger group of undergraduates through much appreciated financial assistance provided by mentors who are able to full-fund or split-fund their interns. Interns may work up to 20 hours per week and receive $15.50 per hour. In 2023 on average, our interns worked 8.3 hours per week during the 35-week internship. Full-funding an intern at $15.50 per hour for 35 weeks at 8.3 hours per week amounts to $4,502.75, while split-funding this cost amounts to $2,251.38. 

Deadlines, Events, & Other Commitments

In addition to what is mentioned above, mentors are expected to provide overall guidance and mentorship, are required to respond in a timely manner when first matched with an intern to confirm their participation, and mentors are asked to (optionally) provide cost-share to the program. Mentors must review and sign the program Welcome Packet, Code of Conduct Agreement, and (optional) Cost-Share Agreement before the start of the program year. Mentors are expected to attend a 1-hour orientation at the beginning of the program year (September) and are expected to respond to December and May program evaluations. 

Mentors are invited to attend events and especially to attend and support their intern at the Statewide Student Research Symposium in April of each year. Mentors are strongly encouraged to share updates with the Space Grant team, including things that are going well and especially things that aren't, so that our team can follow up and make sure both intern and mentor are having a successful program year. We also encourage mentors to send updates about their intern's participation in conferences, presentations, and papers, and highlight stories with photos are much appreciated. Continued connection through social media, our newsletter, and attending annual events beyond the program year is also encouraged and appreciated.

Timeline of Program Year

June 30, 2024: Intern & Mentor applications due at midnight (MST).

Late July - August: Mentors notified of intern match; must respond to confirm their participation by given deadline. Cost-share paperwork (if applicable) must be signed. All mentors must review and sign the Welcome Packet, Code of Conduct Form by given deadline.

September: Mentor orientation; internship begins.

December: Mid-year evaluation due from interns and mentors.

March: Interns must submit a 150-word abstract for the AZSGC student research Symposium; mentors must review/approve this abstract.

April: Interns must submit a PowerPoint presentation for the Symposium; mentors must review/approve this PowerPoint. Mentors are invited to attend the Symposium to support their intern.

May: Internship ends; mentors complete a year-end evaluation. 

What does Space Grant provide?

Space Grant offers 35 years of successful internship program experience to both interns and mentors. The Space Grant Program provides a foundation for which interns may apply for a paid research experience to be matched with mentors and research opportunities in their community. Space Grant committee members review intern applications so that mentors are matched with highly ranked undergraduate students that fit their project needs and requirements to the best of their ability. Space Grant hires interns as UArizona student employees and performs all payroll management, removing the administrative burden from the mentor. If a mentor chooses to cost-share with the program, Space Grant will charge the account accordingly. 

Space Grant provides a support system of not only program staff that frequently check-in, hold office hours, meet with the interns, and more, but also of student peer advisors that offer your intern support. Space Grant provides weekly opportunity emails, additional NASA-sponsored events and programs only open to Space Grant students and organizes at least one group event per month (field trips to the Biosphere 2, Flandrau Planetarium, lunch talks with local scientists, etc.) to allow interns to network, learn something new, and get to know one another. 

Space Grant management will hold orientation sessions at the start of the year to help prepare students for their internship, and review and provide resources and tools needed for a successful year. Space Grant management will hold Symposium abstract and PowerPoint workshops to help prepare interns for this event. 

How many Space Grant interns may I work with?

One of Space Grant's goals is to have diversity within our mentors and diversity within the topical areas we are supporting. The Space Grant Committee will typically not match a mentor with more than 2 interns total. 

Is this program virtual or in person?

Internships may be virtual, in person, or a combination of both. Mentors are asked to describe research tasks and location of work during the application process so that the Space Grant Committee may match an intern to those needs and requirements. Once matched, interns and mentors may work together to come up with a schedule that works for them and the research project requirements during the program year.

Applications

Both interns and mentors must apply by the given deadline to participate in this program. Both interns and mentors may individually apply (meaning they are open to working with someone that the committee matches them with) or they may apply with a specific match already in mind (meaning they will write the name of a requested intern/mentor in their application). 

Review & Matching Process

Following the application deadline, the Space Grant Steering Committee (composed of ~10 faculty and professionals from various disciplines at the UArizona, as well as local industry) review all intern applications. The Committee ranks intern applications based on the content and quality of the applicant's responses to three open-ended questions. Motivation for applying, interest-level, potential, and involvement (work, volunteerism, other activities) are also considered. Prior research experience is not a factor in the selection process as this internship program is designed to provide first-time research opportunities to interested and motivated students. 

The highest ranked (~25-30) applications are then matched by the Committee to the most suitable mentored project. The Committee evaluates foremost the interests indicated on a student's application. Experience and skills are also considered in making a match with a research project. Some limiting factors (e.g. ability to travel off campus for certain positions, time commitment needed, virtual v. in-person) are also considered. The goal is to provide a new and rich experience to the student applicant that aligns with their goals and interests. 

Most students have no previous experience with any particular faculty or industry mentor. However, some intern and mentor applicants identify each other in their applications as desirable research/work partners prior to the selection process. If a student applicant is awarded an internship and has identified a mentor, the Committee will make every effort to match them with that proposed mentor. Please note: having established an intern/mentor match prior to applying has no bearing on the selection of final internships. Student awardees are selected first, entirely based on their own merit irrespective of mentor applications. 

Mentors, please note that there tend to be more mentor applications than available funding and capacity for Space Grant internships. Nevertheless, the selection process is entirely student merit-based. It is only after the highest ranked students are selected that the process of matching interns to the most suitable mentor application begins. 

Once a selected intern has confirmed their participation in the internship program, important sections of an intern's application will be sent to their matched mentor for a final approval of working on that project. In addition, certain sections of the mentor's application which are relevant for the student will be provided to the intern during the intern's orientation session. Following the intern's orientation session, interns will be given the tools and resources to reach out to their matched mentor to establish a first meeting, and the program begins.

Due June 30th, 2024: AY24-25 Applications for

Current Interns & Mentors

Former Interns & Mentors