Internships offer professional training with Maricopa County

April 2, 2015

Arizona State University students have the opportunity to gain valuable hands-on experience and professional development with the Maricopa County Leadership and Education Advancing Public Service program, or MCLEAPS.

The deadline to apply for a paid internship with Maricopa County has been extended to April 6. MCLEAPS interns Jerad McDaniel and Laura Gaona Download Full Image

For geography senior Lindsey Thomas, getting the internship with Maricopa County was exactly what she needed.

“This has been a terrific, terrific internship,” said Thomas. “One of the best experiences I have had while going to school.”

Thomas worked at the Maricopa Air Quality Department with government relations liason Frank Schinzel. She got to see how the agency enforced rules and regulations and how it interacted with businesses and other public agencies. What surprised her was the interest the county had in her own development.

“I've never had a person take a vested interest in my career or as a person – my growth and experience,” Thomas said. “They want to have me look at everything and see the big picture, and with Frank, that's really one of the best things I have experienced.”

Thomas was one of more than a half dozen ASU students who interned during the fall 2014 semester.

Criminal justice majors Laura Gaona and Jared McDaniel interned with the Justice System Planning and Information, part of the County Manager’s Office. They got to tour facilities, sit in on meetings and learn how the county’s criminal justice related agencies fit together.

“What was great about this is actually being able to apply the knowledge you learn in the classroom – hands-on – and being able to see exactly how it works and why it works,” McDaniel said. “Being able to see it directly in the community is huge. It helps solidify my education.”

Gaona appreciated the hands-on learning as well as the professional development offered by the county.

“The nice thing about MCLEAPS is that it offers us training besides what we did for our internships,” said Gaona. “So we learned about giving and getting feedback. We learned about the art of listening. And these are things that you can use anywhere, regardless of what career you end up going into.”

“We feel very strongly about our professional development program,” said Timothy Snyder, an administrative manager in the Maricopa County Human Resources Department. “And really that's the foundation of anything, whether you are a private sector employee or a public sector employee. You're really going to get a lot out of that because those transcend the public-private lines.”

MCLEAPS interns receive the professional development training during the 40 hours they are required to work each week. They receive a stipend of $4,700 for the semester and a tuition and fee waiver for up to 12 credit hours for the semester.

The internship is available to both undergraduate and graduate students who have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Those interested must fill out an application and a resume, unofficial transcript and a personal statement of interest that describes how the internship fits with their academic and career goals.

Students must also select one office to intern with:

• Maricopa County Treasurer's Office
• Air Quality Department
• Maricopa County Education Service Agency (MCESA)
• Maricopa County Attorney – Investigations Division
• Maricopa County Attorney – Victim Services Division
• Public Fiduciary
• Flood Control District of Maricopa County
• Adult Probation
• Department of Transportation – Communications
• Office of Enterprise Technology – Project Management Office

Before applying, ASU students should examine the available internship positions to make sure they are a right fit for the job. Talking with an academic adviser or internship coordinator is suggested to make sure students can balance the internship with their current and future class load. Those who are interested have until April 6 to submit an application.

For more information, visit: or contact internship coordinator Maryjo Zunk at

Paul Atkinson

assistant director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions


First ASU-built space instrument ready for final lab tests

April 2, 2015

The first space instrument to be built at Arizona State University has just received the electronics it will use in flight. This starts the final laboratory tests leading to its launch next year on a NASA rocket.

The electronics for the OSIRIS-REx Thermal Emission Spectrometer, or OTES for short, arrived in a cleanroom at ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration. The electronics are the final of three subsystems making up the instrument. The other two are the spectrometer's optical and mechanical systems. The first space-qualifed instrument to be built at ASU, OTES Download Full Image

On March 31, NASA gave a green light for the OSIRIS-REx mission to transition from development to bringing instruments and their components together. This will be followed in the months ahead by integrating and testing the spacecraft's combined systems.

The OSIRIS-REx mission will launch in September 2016 and fly to an asteroid, 101995 Bennu. There it will collect a sample of its rocks and dirt and bring them back to Earth in 2023. (OSIRIS-REx is short for Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer; the University of Arizona in Tucson leads the mission.)

OTES plays a key part in the mission to Bennu. Its task is to use long-wavelength infrared light to map the asteroid's minerals, which will help mission scientists select where to collect samples. ASU is one of only a handful of universities in the United States capable of building NASA-certified space instruments.

"We have already built the spectrometer part of OTES and attached it to the telescope that collects light so it can work," said Philip Christensen, OTES' designer and principal investigator. Christensen is a Regents' Professor of geological sciences in SESE. "The final element is the electronics that will control the instrument. OTES has now received its brain and nervous system."

Next come tests as engineers working in a cleanroom in the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 4 on the Tempe campus work to integrate the electronics with the optical and mechanical parts of OTES.

Testing will include placing OTES in a chamber where it is subjected to the same conditions it will experience during the mission. Aerospace engineers call this process "shake and bake" because it reproduces the vibrations of a rocket launch as well as the extremes of heat and cold that OTES must survive to do its job.

"NASA's rules for testing flight instruments and other space hardware are detailed and thorough," Christensen said. "They need to be. Once the spacecraft leaves Earth, there are no repair calls. Everything has to work perfectly."

Primitive target

Scientists chose asteroid Bennu as the target for the OSIRIS-REx mission because it has undergone relatively little change since it formed early in the solar system's history. Thus samples from Bennu may give us a better look at how the solar system formed.

With an orbit that brings it inside Earth's orbit, Bennu is the most accessible asteroid rich in organic materials. It is about 575 meters (1,900 feet) wide, roughly spherical and spins once every 4.3 hours. Reflecting only 3 percent of the sunlight falling on it, Bennu is about as dark as a charcoal briquette.

The flight plan calls for the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to launch in September 2016 and rendezvous with Bennu in November 2019. It will spend up to 15 months surveying Bennu's mineralogy with OTES and another spectrometer working at shorter visible and infrared wavelengths. A suite of three visible-light cameras and a laser altimeter will draw a complete picture of the asteroid.

Mission scientists will then select a target area. The spacecraft will approach Bennu, touch it briefly and collect at least 60 grams (2 ounces) of dust, soil and rubble from its surface. Then OSIRIS-REx will cruise back to Earth and deliver the encapsulated sample to a landing site in Utah in September 2023. After dropping off the sample as it flies past Earth, the spacecraft may go on to survey other asteroids, although it will not be able to collect samples from them.

"As we put all its flight parts together and start on this final series of testing, it's very exciting to see OTES come to life in our hands," Christensen said.

The School of Earth and Space Exploration is an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Robert Burnham

Science writer, School of Earth and Space Exploration