Washington and Lee University School of Law

Washington and Lee University School of Law

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Constitution v. Robots

Lindsay Hitz, a rising 2L from Hershey, PA, is interning with the Office of Chief Counsel (OCC) at NASA Langley Research Center.

In an attempt to achieve the complete NASA experience, I have been spending the last few weeks trying to soak up as much knowledge as I can about the science, research, and history of NASA. The 40-year anniversary of man landing on the moon presented a wonderful opportunity for my goal.  In honor of the anniversary, the Strategic Relations Office sponsored an advanced screening of "The Wonder of it All," an Apollo documentary. Adding to the excitement, the producer of the film came to NASA Langley to introduce the documentary and answer questions.  The film was fascinating and presented a unique take on the Apollo astronauts by focusing on how the experience of landing on the moon shaped each man's life.
Now that I have celebrated an anniversary, toured wind tunnels and lunar simulators, and learned about the practice of law along the way, it is just about time to leave my internship. During my last week, I will be finishing up the final component: a research project and presentation regarding a specific aspect of NASA legal practice. My project examines the evolution of First Amendment protections for government employees. I specifically looked into what effect, if any, the increased use of technological forms of expression, such as blogs, would have on the current standards.  I will be presenting my findings at a poster presentation session next week.
The poster presentation session serves as a showcase for all of the student research at NASA Langley, and over 200 interns will present their research at the event. It should be an excellent opportunity for me to learn a little bit about some of the experiments and fascinating research that other students in the hard sciences have been conducting this summer. Maybe, if I'm lucky, I will be able to educate these future scientists and engineers about one small aspect of the law. But I must admit, I'm fairly certain that the Constitution will have a hard time competing with the robots and other gadgets that some of my hard science counterparts will bring to the event.  Regardless of the popularity of my poster, this event is a wonderful way to end the summer and celebrate the work of all of the summer interns.
Looking back on my internship, of all of my exciting experiences, the most valuable have been my interactions with the NASA attorneys. The ability to work closely with many of the attorneys and the opportunity to get to know them as professionals and individuals has been invaluable. 


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