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Killdeer native, two-time NASA intern heading for third tour

Douglas Kadrmas' lifelong dream of working for NASA became a reality when he was awarded an internship at the government agency. Kadrmas, 21, son of Keith and Darla Kadrmas from Killdeer, went from building models to working on the Orion crew mod...

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Douglas Kadrmas' lifelong dream of working for NASA became a reality when he was awarded an internship at the government agency.

Kadrmas, 21, son of Keith and Darla Kadrmas from Killdeer, went from building models to working on the Orion crew module after a successful career fair in the fall of 2012.

“Growing up as a kid, I always looked up to NASA,” he said.

As a sophomore at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Kadrmas attended the only career fair on campus that had NASA representatives.

The representatives did on-the-spot interviews with students as one part of the application process.

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Despite only having a week to apply, including writing several essays and applying for funding, Kadrmas decided he would give it a shot.

“A lot of people have a dream to see what’s in outer space,” he said. “NASA is what makes it a reality.”

Two years later, Kadrmas has completed two of the three tours at NASA that are required for him to be considered for recruitment.

To be eligible for employment, interns have to complete two tours during the school year and one during the summer. Kadrmas interned during the spring semester of 2013 and this summer.

“Once you have your foot in the door for the first time, it’s a lot easier,” he said.

Kadrmas is confident that he will be accepted for his third tour in the spring of 2015. After that, he has a 95 percent chance of getting a job offer, he said.

During both tours, Kadrmas was assigned to the Orion Best Estimated Projectory, a simulation designed for its first test flight to document where it flew during the test flight and take raw data from the sensors.

“The second time was a lot more relaxed because I knew the ins and outs of the project,” he said. “What would take three days now took one day.”

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Kadrmas, though, wasn’t the only one to notice the improvement.

“I was very impressed by his ability to learn new concepts,” said Greg Holt, deputy of navigation for the Orion Design Team and Kadrmas’ mentor.

According to Holt, what sets Kadrmas apart is his rural background, growing up on farm in North Dakota.

“I think he brought a unique perspective,” Holt said. “He had a very practical attitude on how to get things done and cut through the fluff. Folks with that background have a can-do attitude.”

According to Holt, the NASA internship program is designed to “identify the best and the brightest in science, technology, and math fields.” He’s confident that Kadrmas belongs in that group and would like to see him return.

“I have very high hopes and a very worthy outlook for Doug,” Holt said.

Kadrmas is working on his application for his third tour and has high hopes for a future at NASA.

“It’s very satisfying knowing that I’ve got my foot in the door for the company I want to work for,” he said. “It was fun, the work was enjoyable, it was like a paid vacation.”

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Kadrmas also has future plans for a master’s degree when he finishes his tours at NASA. His two top aerospace programs are at the University of Houston and University of Texas at Austin.

 

The Bismarck Tribune and Forum News Service are in a media partnership.

 

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