Four days each week Kyeon leaves IDEA early to work at NASA’s headquarters in Southwest DC from 2:45 to 5pm. Kyeon was chosen for the internship through IDEA’s partnership with Urban Alliance, and is the only high school student currently interning in NASA’s information technology division. He began the internship in October and will continue through August 2019.
“I’m doing a lot of technology-based projects right now, including managing NASA’s IT website, coordinating an inventory of NASA computers, and updating NASA online news boards,” Kyeon explained. Because he is also interested in mechanical engineering, Kyeon also plans to meet with NASA lead engineers, both at headquarters and at NASA’s Goddard campus in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Kyeon has been passionate about computers, engineering, and building for as long as he can remember. “My parents tell me I’ve liked cars since i was born. As a child I always had a big car collection, and we would go to car shows,” Kyeon said. “As I’ve grown I started to dig a little deeper than just the shell of a car and how they look, and start thinking more about mechanics and how they run and function.”
This past summer Kyeon did electrical work alongside his dad, doing everything from changing bulbs and installing fire alarms to running wires through ceilings. He earned enough money to buy his dream car, a 2007 yellow and black Crown Vic. As with any project, Kyeon took on maintenance and upgrades of his car on his own, starting with buying and installing new wheels. He plans to make further improvements on the car when he earns more money.
As a student in IDEA’s Academy of Construction and Design program throughout high school, Kyeon has learned and honed a variety of construction skills, and put them to good use building a Minim home and a tiny house in DC and a variety of houses in Jamaica. As a sophomore, Kyeon participated in a service trip where he worked alongside dozens of other volunteers to construct desperately needed safe housing in a poor community. “Going to Jamaica was a great experience,” Kyeon recalled. “It helped me realize how privileged we are here in DC.”
Kyeon has also served as an ambassador for ACAD, conducting tours of the student-built houses and helping ACAD Director Shelly Karriem promote, sell, and deliver student-made projects such as picnic tables at IDEA’s Earth Day celebrations. He credits Ms. Karriem with helping him stay on track academically and explore his desire to learn. Kyeon is also grateful for the math teachers he’s had at IDEA for supporting his curiosity. He has consistently made the honor roll since his 10th grade year, and was inducted into the National Honor Society this fall.
With such diverse experience and so many possible paths ahead of him, Kyeon is open to what the future brings. “I wanted to do computer engineering, and then I discovered mechanical engineering, but I also want to study math and automotive engineering. Now that I’m working at NASA, that could change to aerospace engineering.”
Kyeon has already received letters of acceptance from several universities, and is waiting to hear from a few more--hopefully with some scholarship offers. Then he will have some tough decisions to make. In the meantime, he will continue to work and explore at NASA, study hard at IDEA, and make that Crown Vic shine.