Dual-Major to Spend Summer Interning for NASA
By Amanda Velez
Montuori is one of 32 students nationwide — and the only student from a SUNY school — selected to intern this summer with NASA’s Student Airborne Research Program.
Taking to the Sky
The program’s orientation at the Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, Calif. begins July 14. After the first week, Montouri will be placed into one of three groups and will focus his research on either air quality, oceanography or forest ecology, collecting in-flight data in the process. Doing airborne research, he will get to use instruments that sample and measure atmospheric gases and study land and water surfaces. Montuori said he is most excited to actually get his hands on the tools.
“I’m really excited to touch the equipment. That’s what I wanted from an internship.”
– Patrick Montuori
He will spend the remaining six weeks of the program at the University of California, Irvine, where he will analyze and interpret his own data and formally present his results and conclusions to his peers, teachers, professional engineers and top scientists in their fields.
Montuori, originally from Westchester County, said his love for the outdoors and hiking sparked his interest in environmental science. He knew he’d have an opportunity to help people because he saw that many places need help with environmental management.
Now, he’s more interested than ever in pursuing a career in his field because of the classes he took that he never thought he’d enjoy so much — like chemistry, which he now tutors. He also likes the abundance of field trips because they “add an extra dimension” to the class lectures.
Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Eric Leibensperger said experiential learning in the department is crucial for students’ advancement.
“This is what we do,” Leibensperger said. “We’re really committed in giving students hands-on opportunities.
Help from Faculty
Leibensperger advised Montuori to apply for the internship. Montuori thought it was a shot in the dark, but Leibensperger knows his student has what it takes.
“I just want him to reach his full potential,” Leibensperger said.
Montuori said he appreciates all of his teachers.
“I don’t just talk to my adviser,” he said. “I get second and third opinions from my other teachers as well.”
Montuori said the program, teachers and small size of Plattsburgh have all contributed to his success.
“Plattsburgh has given me the opportunity to stand out,” Montuori said.
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