Inspired by the words of his former teacher at Crestwood High School, Jason Cornelius continues to achieve much in his college career, including the opportunity for upcoming internships in California and China.
“He always was telling us that, if you work hard for four years in college, the rest of your life you’ll live like a king,” Jason recalled of his favorite physics teacher at Crestwood, Dr. Garraoui. “He was definitely an influence on me.”
Jason has indeed been working hard at Penn State, in his pursuit of a career in aerospace engineering. While those with degrees in that field can pursue many different directions with their futures, Jason, a junior, plans to focus on rotocraft aeromechanics, which is the science of how the propellers on aircraft, like helicopters, work. He hopes to work in the research and development area of rotocraft, making improvements and finding new technology.
Science has always been an interest for Jason. “Ever since I was little, I always loved to build legos, launch rockets, that kind of thing,” he related. When he was in seventh grade, Jason’s mother told him about the field of aerospace engineering. It was at that young age that Jason researched what it meant on the Internet and decided on his future major in college.
Jason’s mother works as a labor and delivery nurse and his father, so proud of his son that he wrote the Mountaintop Eagle with a list of his achievements, is a nuclear technician in Berwick. Asked if he takes after his father, Jason replied, “I take after both of my parents. Both are pretty smart and both did well in school.”
Both are equally proud of their son as well. In the spring, Jason will be interning at a NASA research center in California’s Silicon Valley. He was selected from applicants all over the country and only four undergraduates were chosen for the internship.
“I didn’t really believe it at first,” Jason related of finding out he was chosen. “I got this email and I had to read it twice. It named students from all over the country. That’s pretty cool.”
Jason went on of what the internship entails. “I’m not sure exactly what I’ll be doing. We won’t find out till we’re down there, but the job description is for rotocraft so that’s pretty exciting,” he said. “I hope to work in wind tunnels or run computer simulations….I have no idea, but I’m sure it will be interesting.”
When he returns from California, Jason will be off to China to act as a teaching assistant, leading 30 students who are studying engineering. Jason was selected for that three-week excursion last year as well. He was chosen by a professor at Penn State who saw his potential.
“I loved it last year. It was the first time I ever left the country,” Jason remarked. “It was an amazing experience and I’m thrilled to do it again.”
Asked if the language barrier in China was difficult, he said it wasn’t. The majority of people in the cities speak English and other Penn State students who speak Chinese accompanied his group on the trip to help them communicate.
To add even further experience outside the classroom, Jason will also work this summer at Bell Helicopter in Texas. He interned there last summer as well, conducting rotor analysis on helicopters.
“I’d get designs from designers to work with….I got a chance to work on a defense project for the government.” Jason recalled. “It was really cool…It really influenced me on where I want to go now.”
For the future, Jason plans on pursuing a master’s degree. That will help further direct him to the specific field he will ultimately work in, he said. But it was his start at Crestwood, with supportive parents, that led him to this bright future.