, Muskogee, OK

Local News

April 14, 2014

Next stop NASA for science student

“Nerd” is a term David Keck accepts with pride.

“There’s no shame in it at all,” the computer science major said. “If somebody likes sports a lot, they’re not necessarily called a nerd, but they certainly have a passion. I have a passion for science, but instead of being called a ‘sports nut,’ it’s a ‘nerd.’”

Keck, 24, said some of his earliest memories involve checking things and experimenting.

“I was curious then about scientific things, but I didn’t know about them,” Keck said. “I remember doing an experiment when I was really young on water surface tension. I didn’t know what it was then, but I saw a picture of a sewing needle and you can balance it on water because the water tension is so high. And I recreated that through a lot of trial and error.”

He said he must have been 4 or 5 at the time.

His interest propelled him through homeschool, Hilldale schools and Northeastern State University. After graduating from NSU in May, Keck will spend the summer in Huntsville, Ala., as an intern with NASA.

Keck had intended to go to medical school, partly because he liked the “puzzles” doctors face. Then, he visited online forums with people who were going to medical school or who were doctors.

“What I heard from all of them, almost, was don’t go into this field unless you absolutely are extremely passionate and will put up with anything,” he said. “And I heard stories about people who were on call all night and were not able to go home, and they crashed because they were not able to go to sleep. And they came back to the hospital, this time as a patient. And that’s not something I wanted to do.”

He said he realized that computer science “is nothing but puzzles.”

“And the hours are a lot better.”

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