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From Lassonde to the Stars: Rehan Rashid is turning his space aspiration into reality

Get to know Rehan Rashid, an undergraduate student in Mechanical Engineering at the Lassonde School of Engineering who is making his childhood dreams of working at NASA a reality.

“In 2018, I attended Lassonde’s open house and was deeply inspired by the presenters who spoke about Lassonde students having the freedom to forge their own path,” says Rehan Rashid. “This really resonated with me because I always dreamed of working  at NASA. I was particularly thrilled to learn about the various space engineering clubs, research opportunities and flexibility for mechanical engineering students to take courses in space engineering.”

Fast forward to today, and Rashid is now wrapping up his bachelor’s degree at Lassonde, after years of pursuing diverse learning experiences.

“My advice to students is to get involved early on,” he says. “I strongly recommend participating in extracurricular activities; especially participating in the clubs offered at Lassonde. There are numerous organizations and programs that students can join to gain hands-on experience, like the York University Robotics Society and Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology program.”

With support from Lassonde, Rashid also secured three internships at NASA, and will soon begin his fourth this summer. These internships have been instrumental to his academic and career progression.

NASA internship completion certificate and poster.
 Rehan Rashid at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Left: NASA internship completion certificate and poster. Right: Rehan Rashid at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Rashid’s internships took place at three different NASA centres: Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas and Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida. He conducted several diverse research projects, including designing, fabricating and testing new battery designs for electric aircraft. Rashid was also recognized as a NASA Innovator for his work on a compact, plasma-based elemental analyzer for astronauts in the International Space Station.

Beyond knowledge and skill development, each of these internships nurtured Rashid’s fascination with space, providing him ample opportunities to witness launches for companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin and of course, NASA. During his first internship in 2022, he also had the pleasure of meeting several astronauts who were preparing for upcoming space missions.

Space crop production experiments at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida

Left: Space crop production experiments at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Right: NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida.

“My internship experiences at NASA have strengthened my passion for space exploration and energy storage technology,” says Rashid. “During summer 2024, I’m looking forward to beginning my fourth NASA internship at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, where I’ll be working on a project about novel carbon utilization-based technology for the lunar surface.”

Left: Lobby of Crew and Thermal Systems Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Right: Cell-cycling experiment at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

“Lassonde and York have played a significant role in supporting my academic and career journey,” says Rashid. “I want to extend a special thank you to Professor Reza Rizvi, who served as a primary mentor for me and wrote a letter of recommendation that contributed to my selection for my first internship at NASA. I also view Professor Razieh (Neda) Salahandish as an excellent mentor and am thankful for her willingness to supervise my self-proposed capstone idea. Additionally, I’m very appreciative of the professors who teach energy and thermofluidic courses at Lassonde as they have ignited my passion and interest in the field.”

Rashid’s undergraduate experience serves as a launching pad toward a successful future. He is now well prepared for the next step of his journey as a master’s candidate at Carnegie Mellon University. With passion, commitment and support from Lassonde, he is bound to surpass his greatest ambitions.