Rhea Iyer, AHS '21, UCF '25
To NASA's Space Center as a Summer Intern
Rhea Iyer graduated from AHS with the mission to one day become an astronaut. One year later, she will take a seat at NASA’s mission control as a summer intern at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
An aerospace engineering major at the University of Central Florida, in addition to her classes at UCF Rhea also serves as a research assistant on a study aiming to understand the effects of osteoporosis in microgravity.
During her three-month internship at Johnson Space Center, she will be working with the Guidance, Navigation & Control team helping to write and develop code that will be used on the Artemis 2 mission - the mission to send astronauts, including the first woman and first person of color, to the Moon.
Throughout Rhea’s high school years at Heritage, the National Merit Semifinalist played a key role on the award-winning robotics and debate teams and helped promote activism throughout the community while serving in both Young Politicians and Activism for Our Lives. Much of her time was spent in the science lab as a member of the Heritage Science Research Institute, and it’s no wonder that Rhea’s favorite class at AHS was Science Research. “I enjoyed the opportunity to be able to conduct hands-on research of my own every year and present it to a community just as passionate about science and discovery as I am!” she says. “The support and guidance of Dr. Thompson and the research staff were unparalleled as was our access to materials and facilities,” she adds.
While the idea of working at NASA may seem unworldly for some, Rhea is going into the experience with confidence and attributes American Heritage for preparing her academically and enabling her to develop the skills she will need to be successful. “From the advanced physics and computer science I will be seeing firsthand in Houston to the interpersonal, leadership, and teamwork skills I gained in order to network and work alongside leaders in the industry, I know American Heritage made me the best-prepared student for such an exciting experience,” Rhea says.
In case anyone is wondering about the importance of space exploration, it is fully explained in a TEDx Youth talk by this likely future astronaut and AHS Alumna, Rhea Iyer. Upon completion of her bachelor’s degree, Rhea plans to earn her pilot’s license and attend graduate school. She is well on her way to accomplishing her dream of going to Mars.