National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

David Walter Riesland

David Walter Riesland

David Walter Riesland

Montana State University
Bozeman, MT
B.S. in Electrical Engineering Fall 2014

NASA Academy Research Project:
Secure Autonomous Data Mule Project

Principal Investigators:
Dr. Dennis Iannicca and Alan Hylton

Hometown: Miles City, Montana


Humans have always been obsessed with discovery. The advance of technology over the past 40 years has been astounding. As we continue to push the boundaries of technology, the prospect of humans living somewhere other than earth becomes more and more real. Space is the next great unknown for us, and I believe that mankind is destined to travel the stars. It is my dream to be a part of this great endeavor.


I am a junior at Montana State University majoring in Electrical Engineering. Through education, training, and experience in the US Navy as an Aviation Electronics Technician, I have a unique background in calibration, measurement science, and component-level troubleshooting. I started working with Montana Space Grant Consortium’s high altitude ballooning program in my first semester at Montana State University. Since then I have worked on fabrication and prototypes of several different payloads, ranging from flight termination systems to weather stations. I was awarded funding under the Undergraduate Scholars Program to pursue research at the Optical Remote Sensing Laboratory at MSU. My project this last year was to design a system using photo-multiplier tubes to detect the Aurora Borealis in the night sky. My favorite class so far has been an independent study in Optical Design using Zemax. I have enjoyed pursuing research and competitions (such as NASA’s National Student Solar Spectrograph Competition) during the school year; since every design challenge reinforces concepts I am learning in my classes.


I joined the Navy to see the world, and I had the pleasure of seeing many places I had previously only imagined. I enjoyed seeing new cultures, places, and traditions. I want to continue to travel the world as time and money will allow. In my free time I enjoy reading, fencing (épée), hiking, computer games, and snowboarding.


I am an engineer. There is nothing like seeing something that you have designed and built deploy and do its job. I like integrating systems, taking parts of a project and putting them all together. I also like to prototype, so I think that research and development would be a good fit. I enjoy optics and both digital and analog electronics. I want to be involved in space exploration, research, or measurement science. I would love to work in the aerospace industry, and I’m hoping that during my time at NASA this summer I will be able to see engineers working in both electrical and optical design. I am hoping that the experience will show me what career path will be the best fit.