15:42 PM

UHCL alum says Spaceport internship began his engineering career

Mitchell Jefferies knew he couldn't have gone from intern to full-time avionics engineer at Intuitive Machines without the guidance and support from his professors in the computer engineering program at University of Houston-Clear Lake.

"I started here as an intern in spring 2019, taking advantage of an option I had at UH-Clear Lake. I could do an internship that counted as elective credit toward my degree," he explained. "I got another paid internship, and afterwards I graduated in the summer. Then I started full time at Intuitive Machines. One of my robotics professors told me about the opportunity, or I wouldn't have even known about it."

Jefferies received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering in 2019 and has never second-guessed his decision to transfer to UHCL.

"I chose UHCL because I had heard really good things about the program I was interested in," he said. "Also, it was convenient because it was close to home, and affordable. I also preferred the smaller class sizes and the chance I had to develop relationships with my professors."

Jefferies said Intuitive Machines was the first official tenant of Spaceport and began as an engineering "think tank" for the medical, oil and gas and aerospace industries. The company received some NASA contracts to develop commercial lunar payload systems as part of their Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative.

"That initiative allows different universities or entities that have some scientific equipment or experiments they'd like to send to the moon use us as their 'ride,'" he said. "Intuitive Machines will make sure they can interface electronically with their payload and that things will align mechanically. Their payload will get the power that it needs and data will be passed back and forth between our vehicle and their payload."

He noted that their vehicle travels on a SpaceX rocket, which takes it into orbit. "We go from there," he said. "We have telecommunications with our vehicle and get the data back through a network of satellites."

He said he planned to continue working as an avionics engineer, continuing to acquire skills and experience on the job. "There are a lot of senior-level NASA engineers here, and I'm learning from them and I just want to keep developing," he said. "I feel that my education at UHCL prepared me very well to be here. I had professors who cared and wanted to see me succeed."

For more information about UHCL's computer engineering program, go online.