Christopher Lang Headed for NASA
NASA aficionado and computer enthusiast, University of Minnesota Crookston junior Christopher Lang, has his sights set up in the sky. Lang, from Kenyon, MN, grew up with a keen interest in computers and technology, as well as a passion for space.
“Growing up near a small town, there was not much to do or places to go,” Lang explains as he remembers how he first got interested in computers.
Lang not only liked learning about technology and computers, he liked taking them apart, putting them back together, seeing what he could do with them, and above all understanding how he could change or modify them to help people or change certain things.
During his time at UMN Crookston, Lang has worked on a variety of projects. Whether he has been approached by different teachers, or he has gone out of his way to find the aforementioned projects, Lang continuously finds himself putting his skills to work and getting hands on experience.
One of the larger projects that Lang has worked on has been with associate professor Katy Chapman. Together they came up with a semi-automated recycling tracking system. They named it “Waste Watchers.” As Lang explained, they hooked up a “raspberry-pie” microcomputer to sensors that measure the recycling bins in the student center. The sensors are utilized to track recycling usage. Furthermore, there are user-friendly, interactive screens near the recycling bins where UMN Crookston community members can select what they are recycling, plastic, paper, glass, etc., which gives them points in return. Later, they can trade their points in for different prizes.
The project came about as Lang and Chapman were talking about ways to improve recycling on campus. They both wanted to find an easy way to inform people about what is recyclable, hence the interactive screens, and a rewards system. Lang and Chapman discussed brainstormed over many ideas that culminated in this project.
Lang is also working on another project with Chapman that measures electricity usage. This goes to show, that Lang is constantly looking for new projects and ways to get hands on experiences. The experience that he is able to gain now helps him have key talking points during job interviews, job fairs, and it will certainly help Lang once he joins the workforce.
Lang hopes to one day work for NASA, and it seems as though he is one step closer to achieving that goal as he recently accepted an internship at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center near Los Angeles. He will be focusing on writing flight computer software for small unmanned aerial vehicles.
As graduation approaches Lang prepares for his internship and his career path leading him one step closer to his ultimate goal of working for NASA.