STEM Students Spend Summer at NASA

Two Trinity Christian School computer engineering students spent the summer working at NASA on artificial intelligence applications. Lucas Kniska and Ethan Tomlinson, both juniors at Trinity Christian, were hired to work at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) for the summer.

Because NASA is interested in utilizing artificial intelligence on its future missions but needs assurance that these technologies will be reliable and safe to use on complex missions, Mr. Kniska and Mr. Tomlinson were hired to research and explore assurance strategies. The students spent the summer interacting with NASA engineers and scientists to learn about AI and gain general knowledge about the work NASA does.

During their internship, Mr. Kniska and Mr. Tomlinson were required to build an artificially intelligent application that could be used as a case study to explore assurance strategies. The students chose a topic that would also benefit their home school and schools throughout the world.  They developed an application that ingested live video-feed from the school’s security cameras and developed machine-learning algorithms that could identify weapons by analyzing the video-stream. Towards the end of their summer position, the students coordinated a live test in which local police officer, Brian Hill from Granville Police Department, walked around campus displaying his service pistol and rifle. The first live test was extremely successful in that the student’s application was able to identify the weapons from vast distances. Still in its trial stages, as the application is refined by the young men it will be considered for implementation at Trinity Christian School. When in operation, this application could give school officials 5-10 seconds head start if a school shooter is walking through a parking lot entering a school.

The NASA supervisors were extremely impressed with the two students’ work, which exceeded expectations. On August 3, 2023, Mr. Kniska and Mr. Tomlinson briefed NASA on their project and results to conclude their summer position. Their NASA supervisor, Mr. Jess White gave high accolades to the students saying, “The project was quite successful, and we hope to see these young men back at NASA.”

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