Annette Hacker, director,
Office: (515) 294-4777
ISU senior and NASA intern Cory Simon gets to sit in the in the commander's seat of Discovery during his work aboard the space shuttle.
Cory Simon, ISU computer engineering student, (515) 231-2591, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tahira Hira, President's Office, (515) 294-2042, email@example.com
Carole Custer, ISU Marketing, (515) 294-3134, firstname.lastname@example.org
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NASA intern earns inaugural Sesquicentennial Learning to Live a Life Leadership Award
AMES, Iowa -- To say Cory Simon has had a "hand" in the United States space program would be an understatement. As an intern the past two springs and summers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Simon helped develop NASA's Astronaut Interface Device (AID) -- a prototype wrist-mounted control panel astronauts will use to interact with robots when humans return to the moon in 2020.
But it was Simon who got "a hand" when he became the first recipient of Iowa State University's Sesquicentennial Learning to Live a Life Leadership Award. An ISU senior computer engineering major from Winterset, Simon received the award during the closing ceremonies of the university's sesquicentennial celebration in the Memorial Union on Saturday, April 12.
Simon, who has completed 16 months worth of cooperative education (co-op) experiences through NASA's Johnson Space Center, was surprised by the award.
"To be the first student to receive this award at Iowa State is such a great honor," said Simon. "It was completely unexpected and such a great way to end the semester."
Among those present at the award ceremony was Iowa State's first astronaut, Clayton Anderson, who was a speaker at the sesquicentennial event. Anderson's presence made the award even more memorable for Simon.
"I was so humbled to be sitting next to Clayton Anderson since he has accomplished so much as an astronaut," he said. "It was an honor to be on the same stage with him."
Flown in by NASA to Kennedy Space Center
Simon says his ISU education helped him during his co-ops at the Johnson Space Center. After testing and certifying a new digital video recorder for space shuttles, Simon and two other NASA team member flew to Kennedy Space Center in Florida to help install the new technology on the space shuttle Atlantis. While in Florida, Simon and team members also inspected the wiring on the space shuttle Discovery.
"On my way to inspect the wiring, I got to have the same experience as astronauts have because I walked the same path and used the same elevator to board the space shuttle Discovery," Simon said. "I got to sit vertically in the commander's seat of Discovery. It's definitely the coolest thing I've ever done."
The experience was a rare treat for an intern. But this wasn't just any NASA intern. He was the recipient of the "Going the Extra Mile" award and two co-op awards.
During the internship, Simon learned that he could not only walk where astronauts have walked, but also talk the talk with NASA engineers, too.
"One of the best things I learned at Iowa State was how to communicate," Simon said. "Knowing how to speak the scientific language of engineers enabled me to learn to communicate and ask intelligent questions during my time at NASA."
At Iowa State, Simon's been active in the Eta Kappa Nu and Tau Beta Pi engineering honor societies, the National Society of Collegiate Leaders, Habitat for Humanity and the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. He also is a National Merit Scholar.
The Learning to Live a Life Leadership Award
His efforts, on and off campus, earned Simon the inaugural Sesquicentennial Learning to Live a Life Leadership Award, which was inspired by former Iowa State student M.J. Riggs. Riggs, an 1883 ISU graduate who was a president of the Alumni Association and a board president of the Memorial Union, is remembered for saying, "We come to college not alone to prepare to make a living, but to learn to live a life."
The award carries with it an annual $3,000 monetary prize. It is being funded by an endowment established by the ISU sesquicentennial committee through proceeds from the sale of the "Tradition and Transformation" sesquicentennial history book, and the "What We Love About Iowa State" lithograph mural and other art commissioned by the Des Moines graphics company Sticks, Inc., for the sesquicentennial.
"The Learning to Live a Life Leadership Award was established to commemorate 150 years in the life of the university and to recognize an undergraduate student whose activities reflect the idea expressed by Mr. Riggs," said Tahira Hira, executive assistant to ISU President Gregory Geoffroy. "Overall, the award is to recognize students who have taken advantage of opportunities at Iowa State to apply his or her knowledge to real life projects and experiences."
"We wanted to recognize outstanding students at this university who have taken the lead to create unique, successful service projects; or have demonstrated impressive leadership through research, or internship opportunities; or have exhibited exemplary leadership in managing or creating national or international projects," said Carole Custer, director of university marketing.
Simon will graduate from Iowa State in December 2008 and plans to attend graduate school to earn his master's degree in computer engineering. After that, he would like to go back to work for NASA and pursue a second master's degree in systems engineering.
"After my time at the Johnson Space Center, I know I want to work for NASA," said Simon. "I'm hooked."
He is the son of Rod and Jeri Simon of Winterset.
Click on pictures for print quality versions.
Cory Simon (Photo by Bob Elbert)
Iowa State senior computer engineering major Cory Simon of Winterset -- an intern the past two springs and summers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston where he helped develop NASA's Astronaut Interface Device -- became the first recipient of ISU's Sesquicentennial Learning to Live a Life Leadership Award.
"On my way to inspect the wiring, I got to have the same experience as astronauts have because I walked the same path and used the same elevator to board the space shuttle Discovery. I got to sit vertically in the commander's seat of Discovery. It's definitely the coolest thing I've ever done."