Nicholas Underwood, an aerospace engineering graduate student at West Virginia University, is a self-professed enthusiast of space and social media.
On Oct. 17, he’ll be able to combine these two passions.
Underwood, a native of Beaver, West Virginia, has been selected to be part of NASA’s social media contingent and will cover the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission Media Day at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He was one of only 25 people nationwide to be selected.
“It’s pretty rad,” Underwood said. “I get to go behind the scenes and see all the stuff I read about on the Internet and get excited about.”
During the day, Underwood will also be able to see the MMS spacecraft, the integration and test facilities, the Magnetic Test Facility and Goddard’s Community Coordinate Modeling Center. The event will also include behind-the-scene tours of the facilities.
“People know me as being ‘the Space Guy’ on Twitter, so now I really get to do that,” Underwood, whose Twitter profile, @TheNickU, reads, “I like space and being nice to people a lot,” said.
Underwood’s selection was based on his social media capabilities, which have been on display on the @WVUStudents account four times. The account is comprised of tweets from different WVU students each week.
“That was exciting because I got to be an official voice of the University. The account gives prospective students an idea of what it’s like to be a WVU student and I think I did a good job of showing them that,” he said.
Underwood also introduced Gene Cilento, the Glen Hiner dean of the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, to Twitter. To aid the dean through the process, he created a cheat sheet for how to tweet and interact with others on the popular social media site.
Though Twitter is what he is most known for, Underwood will also be posting on Facebook and Instagram while at Goddard.
“My Twitter and Instagram accounts are all over the place because my life is all over the place,” he said. “I try to be as open as possible. What you get on Twitter from Nick Underwood is what you get in real life.”
Underwood is researching spacecraft guidance and navigation control for his master’s degree. He received his bachelor’s in aerospace engineering in 2014. During his time as an undergraduate, he was a Statler College Ambassador and an Engineering Challenge Camp coordinator. His dream, though, is to become an astronaut.
“I am incredibly excited to be here. Everything I do is to pursue my dream,” he said. “WVU has given me so many opportunities along with the skillset, confidence and all the other nice things you need to pursue the things you want to do.
“I am excited to go out there for a day, experience the atmosphere and be around people who have similar interests as I do,” Underwood said. “I know it will motivate me more to chase my dreams.”