Florida Tech Panther Scholar-Athlete Spotlight Recognizes NASA Intern Chinedum Ajabor

Ajabor is majoring in Computer Science

In this Scholar-Athlete Spotlight, we are featuring Chinedum Ajabor, a Florida Tech men’s indoor and outdoor track athlete. This summer, the Port Harcourt, Nigeria native is gaining meaningful experience at an internship in his desired field. We caught up with Ajabor to learn more about the incredible opportunity. (Florida Tech image)

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – In this Scholar-Athlete Spotlight, we are featuring Chinedum Ajabor, a Florida Tech men’s indoor and outdoor track athlete.

This summer, the Port Harcourt, Nigeria native is gaining meaningful experience at an internship in his desired field. We caught up with Ajabor to learn more about the incredible opportunity.

What company are you interning for this summer? What is your title and role with the company?

This summer, I will be a research and development intern at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Here, I will be investigating how to model cognitive architectures capable of making decisions independently to ensure they are safe for potential inclusion in future aerospace applications.

What drew you to this internship? What steps did you have to take to earn your position within the company?

NASA is a solid agency with astronomical goals, and it was this scale of impact that drew me toward the agency and internship.

Achieving this role involved me taking a specialized class in modeling cognitive architectures and a formal methods class, both thanks to Dr. Bhattacharyya, to familiarize myself with niche concepts. To understand where my work would fit in, I had to read some research papers and investigate the current landscape of cognitive architecture.

What are some exciting tasks or projects that you have been able to be a part of?

So far, I have been conducting preliminary research, coding in Java, and creating models. In addition to technical work, I have been engaging and networking with NASA professionals at the [Langley Research] Center.

What is your major at Florida Tech? Why did you choose this direction for your education, and is this something you always wanted to pursue?

I am a computer science major, and software was something I was fond of in high school. I was also good at coding and creating new uses for existing software, so I decided this was the route I wanted to explore.

How has being a scholar-athlete prepared you for the work you are currently doing in your internship? What skills have you taken from your time as a scholar-athlete that help you in your internship?

Being a scholar-athlete has helped me balance the demands of work, school, and personal life, as I had to constantly juggle all three during the semester. This work-life balance assists me in being productive without getting burned out.

Time management and effective communication are just a few of the skills being a scholar-athlete has allowed me to reproduce in my workplace.

What skills have you acquired at your internship that will help you on the track at Florida Tech?
My interaction with a diverse group of interns has given me various perspectives that I can use to communicate with and understand my teammates more effectively on and off the track.

How is your internship preparing you for a career you would like to do after graduation?
My internship prepares me for a career by exposing me to niche technologies and providing me with excellent networking experiences I would not find in a classroom setting. There are invaluable lessons I have gained at NASA that I could only have learned by trying and failing in a dynamic workplace environment.

What advice would you give another scholar-athlete/prospective scholar-athlete who is looking to pursue a similar path?
For those looking to follow a similar path, I would say to connect with people who are where you are striving to achieve. Learn from them, eventually reach their level, and perhaps even surpass them!

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