Intern Pioneers New Software Testing Tool on Lucy Spacecraft

Thanks to a new testing tool, Lockheed Martin was able to more efficiently develop cutting-edge software for NASA’s Lucy spacecraft.

The originator of the tool was none other than intern Sam Goldman. This is his story. 

A New AI Software Tool

One of Sam’s first tasks as a full-time member of the Lockheed Martin Lucy team was to refine a software testing prototype for mainstream use.

In the process of doing this, Sam developed an automated post-test verification tool for Lucy’s Software Item Qualification Test (SIQT) program. His innovation eliminated the need for extensive human-in-the-loop verification steps, saving the program hundreds of hours in testing and human work.

The tool proved to be so valuable that Sam’s manager, Dave Hirsch, nominated him for a special internal award designed to recognize employees who implement innovative solutions that deliver value to our customers’ missions.

“The things that stood out were Sam’s ability to grasp our operations and the problem and then create something that was such a big benefit – and it has tremendous potential for other programs as well,” Dave said. 

From Intern to Full-Time Employee

Like so many of Lockheed Martin’s interns, Sam had always been fascinated with space. He got his first internship in human spaceflight with the company when he was a student at Denver’s Overland High School.

“Getting to work on the Orion program was awesome,” Sam offered. He returned to Space for three more internships on Orion and then did his final stint on Lucy before graduating from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in June 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science.

“Those internships,” Sam explained, “gave me an immense amount of real-world experience that prepared me for working full-time.”

He also got the chance to improve his communications and networking skills, thanks to Dave and other mentors. One mentor gave him the courage to try something new, which led him to seek a spot on the Lucy mission. 

The Value of New Ideas

Interns like Sam make tangible contributions to Space and our customers. They are extremely critical when it comes to bringing new ideas and innovations to the table.

“Especially from a software standpoint, interns have been absolutely pivotal,” Dave said.

Their mentors know that interns are new to the world work and provide them with mentoring and support to help these newest members of the workforce hit their stride, Lockheed Martin sets them up with mentors. These leaders provide advice about career paths, and other team members are available to answer day-to-day questions or just talk.

The teams are passionate about giving interns meaningful work that offer valuable experience.  “We treat our interns as just another member of the team, and assign them comparable work,” Dave said. “We try to make them feel as close to being a full-time employee as possible.”

Now Sam is carrying his experience forward by helping mentor an intern, now that he’s a full-time employee. His advice? “Ask questions. It took me a while to get comfortable enough just to ask questions, but once I did, I learned so much.”

Lockheed Martin Space’s internship programs for high school and college students are growing. The program has expanded from four weeks a year ago to eight, and from more than 120 students to more than 650, including 60 high school students.