Kennesaw State grad student joins triple Owl alum at NASA for summer internship

KENNESAW, Ga. | Jun 15, 2022

A Kennesaw State University graduate student was selected from a nationwide pool of candidates to join a three-time Owls alum in work for NASA.

Amber Fellows

Amber Fellows, a biology teacher at West Forsyth High School, began pursuing a master’s degree in information systems at Kennesaw State after eight years of teaching. She said she has loved teaching but felt it was time for a new challenge, especially as her 10-year-old son grows more independent.

“I think it’s a childhood dream of many people to work for NASA,” Fellows said of the two-month summer internship, which she will be able to do remotely from home in Forsyth County. “I feel really fortunate for this internship, and I hope that I can continue in this field with NASA.”

And that may not be a farfetched idea.

Kennesaw State alum and NASA data architect Tanner Griffin, who will mentor Fellows virtually from Langley Research Center in Virginia, began his work with NASA as an intern nearly four years ago. Griffin created a data catalog for NASA from scratch, and now he hires interns to help organize and improve the data cataloging process.

“We had quite a few candidates from KSU apply for this summer, and while I wanted to select the best candidate, I am proud to say that Amber definitely rose to the top,” Griffin said. “We should have two more positions in the fall, so hopefully we can get more people from Kennesaw State as interns in the fall.” 

Tanner Griffin

Griffin said the internship is meant to introduce students to important processes in data collection, organization, management and analysis, as well as advanced software programs that will give Fellows and other interns a step up in their future careers. It will also introduce Fellows to a variety of NASA divisions and their work. Griffin compares the work to organizing data into a card catalog as a library would its books.

Griffin said his work with Fellows is exciting for him, as it continues a pattern of Owls passing on encouragement and mentorship to fellow Owls. Both Griffin and Fellows said one of their information systems professors, Reza Vaezi, was an important part of their journey and in helping to build their confidence which led to their placement at NASA.

Vaezi, associate professor of information systems, said he has watched with pride as Griffin has worked his way up to a managerial position at NASA. Vaezi said he hopes to see Fellows flourish in a NASA career, just as Griffin has.

“The most meaningful reward for a teacher is to see their students benefiting from what they have learned in class. Tanner and Amber have given me that reward,” he said. “And it is an honor to see former students interested in recruiting from the school and program they graduated from. It means they benefited from what they learned and trust the program to instill similar skills and capabilities in new graduates.”

And as Fellows continues her education, Griffin said his academic career isn’t finished either. Though he holds a bachelor’s degree in international business, a master’s degree in information systems and an MBA, all from Kennesaw State’s Coles College of Business, Griffin said he plans to return to the University to pursue a doctorate in data science.

– By Thomas Hartwell
Photos submitted

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