Monday, June 13, 2016

A Place Where Out-of-this-World Dreams Become Realities: A Fulbright Student’s Visit to Space Center Houston

The Fulbright Group in front of the Saturn V Rocket

In May 2016, I attended the 2016 Houston Fulbright Enrichment Seminar on Technology and Entrepreneurship. This seminar brought more than 30 visiting Fulbright students together to discuss how properly combining technology, innovation and entrepreneurship can solve 21st century problems. In fact, one of the most memorable events of the weekend was visiting what I consider to be the coolest place on earth---- Space Center Houston. Space Center Houston is the visitor center for the NASA Johnson Space Center, and it houses several famous NASA spacecraft. Although I’m a computer science guy, I enjoy learning about other branches of science, especially space exploration.  I also admit that I LOVE NASA. It’s the ultimate example of an organization that reaches its goals by embracing technology and testing new ideas.

As soon as we entered the museum, I was immediately drawn in by the technology and exhibits on display. I looked at every information panel, touched a rock from the moon, explored the Apollo Mission Control Room and stood next to the ACTUAL Saturn V Rocket. Until that moment, I had only seen those objects on TV or read about them in books. For me, however, the most rewarding part of the visit was having the opportunity to share my passion about space with other Fulbright students. For example, I spoke to fellow Fulbrighters about recent advances in space research, and how NASA’s discoveries have contributed to fields such as medicine and transportation.
Although I already knew a lot about NASA, nothing compared to standing in the control room (pictured above) where space missions were decided. The museum was extraordinary, and the spacecraft and other artifacts were well preserved. I will never forget my visit. I would never have had the chance to experience this incredible museum if not for the Fulbright Program, and I sincerely thank the AMIDEAST staff for organizing such an unforgettable event.  
 Ahmed in front of the Space Shuttle Independence

Ahmed is from Egypt and studies Computer Science at Purdue University. He will graduate in December 2016, and will pursue a career in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning research.


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