Marlon Taylor, a Computer Science Graduate student, was recently recognized at Mississippi State University as a Spirit of State Award recipient. The 'Spirit of State' Award formally honors those students who have excelled in campus involvement, service to the university, and have made an impact on their peers and the broader campus community.
As an undergraduate student, Marlon participated in the Cooperative Education Program and secured a job with the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services in Jackson, MS. When asked what has been the most rewarding experience you've had while at MSU, Marlon had this to say, "If I had to choose one experience that has really made a significant change in myself, I would have to say my involvement in the Co-op Program. Through co-op, I was able to experience on-hand job training, which has helped me to define my career goals. In addition to the added experience, I was able to grow more as an adult."
Not only has Marlon excelled professionally and academically, he continues to excel in his involvement on campus and in the community. Marlon is a member of several student organizations such as Theta Tau, Professional Engineering Fraternity, Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Society of Black Engineers and Engineering Student Council, to increase his knowledge of the industry. He also serves as a mentor for Project AIM, a program that seeks to provide caring adult mentors for students in grades 3-8 in the Starkville School District. Marlon has a passion for Mississippi State University, for Cooperative Education, and especially for serving his community and campus.
Michael Barton, an aerospace engineering major, has an impeccable academic record and long list of extra-curricular activities. In addition to those accolades, he can now add to his impressive resume being selected as a Spirit of State Award recipient. The 'Spirit of State' Award formally honors those students who have excelled in campus involvement, service to the university, and have made an impact on their peers and the broader campus community.
A native of Collierville, Tenn., Barton is a natural leader. In addition to completing coursework that will catch the eye of any space industry-recruiter, he also has spent cooperative education semesters as a space shuttle engineer with the United Space Alliance.
"I got to work in and around the space shuttle during its last few years of operation," Barton said, with excitement in his voice. "For anyone who is American, that would be a cool experience, but for someone like me, who for so many years has been driven by a love for space, it was completely awesome."
He added, "Everything there was really big and expensive, and so cool. The novelty wears off for most people after about six months, but even then I was still walking around like, 'can you believe this!' It gave my co-workers a chuckle."
Stationed at the agency's site in Cape Canaveral, Fla., he got to touch and help develop the equipment that would take astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
On launch day, he was able to give others their own once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"My coworkers said you didn't want to be at the launch console because you couldn't see anything," Barton explained. "Instead I volunteered my time with NASA to serve as a tour guide for groups of people who had been selected from a waiting list to come see a launch. We took them to the NASA causeway, which is six miles away but has a direct view over the water. I was able to watch four launches from there."
Set to graduate this May, Barton already has his next work experience lined-up. This summer he will spend 12 weeks in Washington, D.C., as an intern with the National Research Council's Space Studies Board, an independent forum that advises companies and government agencies on space science. He is the first student from Mississippi to ever be selected for the prestigious internship. This fall, he will continue his studies at Purdue University, where he will pursue a master's degree in aeronautics and astronautics with a focus on astrodynamics and space applications.