News from The Mahurin Honors College
Zac Colovos - Scholar Spotlight
- Sydney Windhorst
- Friday, October 14th, 2022
The Mahurin Honors College (MHC) wants every scholar to have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a field they love during their college career. For some scholars, internships are the most logical way to explore their future career. For Zac Colovos (MHC ‘24) his co-op internship with the NASA Pathways Program will be a multi-semester experience during his college experience.
Zac Colovos is a Bowling Green, KY native currently pursuing a Mechanical Engineering major with a minor in Mathematics. He is very involved on campus. Zac is a HonorsTopper, an Ogden College Student Ambassador, a TOP Guide, a member of the Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity, a regular volunteer at WKU’s Hardin Planetarium, the vice president of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the secretary of Hilltopper Astronomy Club (HAC), the social media coordinator for the WKU Physics Department, as well as a member of the Society for Physics Students (SPS), Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM), and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).
Currently, Zac is in Houston, Texas at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) completing the first internship of three in the NASA Pathways Program. After completing his three internships through this program, Zac, upon graduation, will be considered for full time conversion with the various departments which NASA works in. Within the Crew and Thermal Systems Division (CTSD) at JSC, Zac is currently working on a team to perfect the design of water filtration systems for future long term duration manned spaceflight to the Moon and Mars. His current roles include being responsible for operating and analyzing a silver electrolysis reactor at varying levels of dissolved oxygen concentration which will allow the team to optimize future reactors found within long duration water filtration systems.
So how did Zac come to learn about this incredible internship opportunity? Well Zac had been in touch with a couple of people that already completed this internship program. These contacts had highly recommended the program and provided Zac with any advice they could.
Zac is the definition of a persistent scholar who doesn’t give up on their goals. It took about two years of applying for Zac to finally reach the interview stage of the lengthy application process for this program and eventually landed the position. Zac explained how, “The biggest aspect of my internship I hope to continue developing for the rest of the semester is networking. I have already interacted with dozens of intelligent minds and have even befriended several astronauts in just my first month at Johnson Space Center. As my friends and family know, working for NASA in any capacity has been a lifelong dream of mine, so even receiving an interview was a big deal for me. I don’t exactly know what my ‘big dream’ within space exploration looks like, but the beauty of the Pathways program is that I will be able to work within multiple realms of the agency before graduation.”
From this internship thus far, Zac’s undergraduate experience has been enhanced by many aspects of this program. He explained how he feels that teamwork skills and knowledge acquisition are two of the aspects that have greatly impacted his experience as an undergraduate student. “My first week consisted of learning the necessary material to understand what I was to be working on. It was a lot of chemistry and electrical engineering, which were previously two of my weaker subjects, but I am proud knowing that both of these subjects have been greatly strengthened.”
Zac mentioned how the MHC had greatly prepared him for this internship. He acknowledged that he could not “imagine not conducting any educational research or lab time prior to this experience.”
His best piece of advice for MHC scholars who are considering pursuing an internship, especially competitive ones, would be “to study hard in school, get involved on campus, and apply during every application window.” He pointed out that he still does not feel that he was the most qualified for a position at NASA, but he explained how he is “confident that [his] determination and involvement paid off.”
“Serving as a TOP Guide and Honors Topper, I love being able to share what WKU has done for me and, more importantly, what it can do for others. We all possess incredible passions and I urge other students to follow your big dreams, get involved on campus, and as Saint Augustine said best, “work as though everything depended on you.””
Zac, we are so proud of all that you are accomplishing! We can not wait to see what you do next!