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UTA engineering student Joe Cloud

Meet Joe

Joe Cloud, a computer engineering doctoral student, is working for NASA through their Pathways program, which will lead to a full-time position upon his graduation in 2024. His research at NASA's Swamp Works rapid-development lab focuses on developing robotic algorithms to help get one step closer to establishing a sustainable colony on the moon.

Cloud interned at NASA’s Langley Research Center during the summer before his senior year at UTA and was one of two Langley interns selected to ask a question via video link of U.S. Astronaut Ricky Arnold, who was aboard the International Space Station.

Cloud asked about practical jokes on the Space Station, and Arnold replied that they do happen, and it’s important for astronauts to have a sense of humor and take advantage of time off.

“NASA is really big on getting interns to understand the processes involved with everything they do. For instance, things like a spacewalk take a lot of planning, and you have to be able to work well with others. It’s important for interns to understand that because that’s the culture they’re in, and if they don’t take the process seriously, it could be disastrous,” Cloud said.

Cloud was the lead intern on a project to integrate a new NASA instrument to a mobile robot for outdoor testing. The instrument could someday be used in a space mission to detect signs of biological materials on Mars or Europa, one of Jupiter’s four moons.

“It was interesting to be part of the process they go through to get to that point. The people working at Langley are all really dedicated. They’re passionate and get to work on really cool projects,” Cloud said.

“I met a few guys who’d been around since the race to the moon. There’s lots of history there, and many like-minded employees and interns.”

Cloud became interested in research early in his UTA career, working with Amir Farbin, an associate professor in the Physics Department. With Farbin, he built a supercomputer in his sophomore year and got really interested in how to use it. As a junior, he began working in Fillia Makedon’s Heracleia Lab in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, writing code to control robotic arms and teach them to perform tasks.

“My intern application stood out because of my research experience at UTA,” Cloud explained. “Opportunities for undergraduate research, such as Research Experience for Undergraduates grants, are definitely something to take advantage of!”