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Elaine Stewart

Undergraduate Student
Intern, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, USA

Elaine Stewart

Country of Birth: USA
Country of Residence: USA
Educational Background: BS in Chemical Engineering, University of Delaware


There are many engineers in my family, so I learned to appreciate science and to see the amazing ways that engineering is integrated into our lives. I was encouraged by my early success in science, and inspired by the excellent ideas of others.

I am honored to be part of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center team that tests and protects from contamination the beryllium mirrors and instruments on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to ensure optical performance. It is an incredible experience to work on the telescope that will one day orbit the sun, 1.5 million kilometers from earth, seeking light that has traveled for 13.5 billion years from the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang. Optics is extremely important to the astronomers worldwide who will use the JWST to understand our Universe’s history and to study distant stars that have never been seen before.

In STEM, innovation is constant, so there is always a new challenge. For example, NASA created many novel technologies in optics, detectors, and thermal controls for the JWST. I try to learn every day from others’ expertise and create a network of mentors to accomplish my professional goals.

Technology connects people globally, so there are boundless opportunities to apply your interests and fulfill your goals. Become knowledgeable in business and entrepreneurship to be a vital member of multifunctional teams. Think broadly and take advantage of new opportunities out of your comfort zone. When I first chose to study chemical engineering, I did not imagine that I would work on space exploration and optics projects like the NASA JWST.

Be adventurous and discover all your talents. Be your own advocate and take advantage of outreach programs, science camps, lectures, and especially the SPIE Student Resources.

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