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Helping NASA build habitats in space

Jaiden Mason & Josh Driskill | Engineering Design

Two Drake State students have earned an out-of-this-world opportunity.

Engineering Design students Jaiden Mason and Josh Driskill are part of the new Frontiers Research Program at Drake State Community & Technical College. They were selected to help NASA Marshall Space Flight Center construct a potential habitat on the moon by 2024.

Mason and Driskill work with materials that are similar to resources found on the moon to develop construction techniques, but these interns are not strangers to the design world.

Get to know the interns

“I’m excited about space exploration because I am interested in physics and science,” said Driskill. “Space travel improves our understanding of both.”

In 2018, Driskill assembled his first 3D printer by himself. His design techniques will help him and Mason develop 3D-printed structures that have the strength and durability to survive in space.

“I hope to learn everything that this internship has to offer,” said Mason. “This research will be essential with the expedition to Mars, and I know this opportunity will impact our future success in this career field.”

Both Mason and Driskill credit their instructors for preparing them for this opportunity.

“Drake State really cares about the success of their students,” said Mason.

“My teacher, Mr. Grissim, mentioned the internship to me and encouraged me to apply,” said Driskill. “I have been excited about space and 3D printing for a long time and this opportunity was an excellent mix of both of those interests.”

Bob Grissim is the Principal Investigator for the Frontiers Research Program. He tracks Mason and Driskill’s progress.

“I’m very curious to see how it will come along in the end,” said Mason, “if these plans will actually be carried out in the expedition to Mars.”

Watch them land successfully in STEM careers

Mason said this research experience will be a gem on his resume and “a great learning experience” to step into the STEM field.

Driskill said the new Frontiers Research Program gives him the kind of exposure he otherwise would not have on his own. He wants to study aerospace engineering once he completes his studies at Drake State.  

“This program will make future space exploration safer and more cost effective,” said Josh. 

Mason and Driskill spent the year researching space construction techniques on the moon thanks to a Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN) from NASA.  Drake State became the first and only Historically Black Community College (HBCU) to receive a CAN from NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP).

They plan to continue studying engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Alabama A&M University, respectively.

Two new interns will pick up where Driskill and Mason left off at Drake State.

Cosmetology alumna Shannon McGlathery is a 36-year-old successful business owner who began her career with only a thought –

“I want to do hair.”

McGlathery’s desire inspired her to enroll in Drake State’s Salon and Spa Management program, the only associate degree cosmetology program in Madison County.

“I set out to be one of the best cosmetology students so that I could be one of the best hairstylists,” said McGlathery.

By the time she graduated in 2005, McGlathery experienced several hiccups while building clientele, becoming a cosmetology instructor, and finally managing her own salon.

“There will be times you want to give up – don’t,” said McGlathery. “There will be obstacles that get in your way – keep going. Know who you are and what you want in life and go for that.”

McGlathery said naysayers tried to discourage her from pursuing a career in haircare.

“There will always be people who don’t believe in you, but what they believe doesn’t matter,” said McGlathery. “I’m a success because even through hardships I didn’t give up on myself.”

McGlathery said her Barbering Instructor Ben Battle helped her get through some of those challenging moments.

“He was an amazing instructor and mentor,” said McGlathery. “He was very detailed when he taught and was always encouraging.”

After 15 years in the industry and 9 years as the salon owner of Divine Images, McGlathery said she’s still doing what she loves most. She’s been a commissioned stylist, booth rental stylist, salon manager, cosmetology instructor, mentor, and hair product line creator. 

“Drake State has played a pivotal role in shaping the foundation of my career,” said McGlathery. “As I grew in the industry, I applied what I learned in the classroom. That’s what helped me get as far as I have come.”

Whatever career crosses your mind, McGlathery said, start there.

“Do not allow people to tell you that your visions and dreams are not worthy,” said McGlathery.