Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Economics Philosophy Political Science Tower Center Undergraduate News

What I Did Last Summer: Ben Prengler ’19

Ben Prengler spent his summer in Washington D.C. as a Space Policy Intern at the White House.

About Ben Prengler:

I am triple majoring in political science, economics and public policy, and double minoring in public policy and international affairs and philosophy. I am from Fairview, Texas, which is between Allen and McKinney.

At SMU, I am the Speaker of the Student Senate, an undergraduate fellow with the Medders Fellowship through the Tower Center doing research in multiculturalism, an HCM Tower Scholar, and a member of Pi Sigma Alpha (Political Science Honor Society) and Omicron Delta Epsilon (Economics Honor Society).

Outside of SMU, I’ve worked on three political campaigns: two for the U.S. Congress, and one for the Texas House of Representatives. In one Congressional campaign, I was the director of social media and a political advisor, in the other congressional campaign I was a policy advisor.  After graduation, I hope to work in Washington, D.C. before attending law school.

How did you obtain this internship?

I obtained this internship through the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) website: I became aware of the internship while taking a class in science and technology policy in Spring 2018 in the course of doing research for the class. I had a passion for space and NASA prior to the class, but was able to explore that passion more fully through a policy lens. I also cultivated a strong interest in artificial intelligence and technology policy more broadly. I brought these passions and interests to OSTP, which are in line with many of the President’s priorities as seen by the reestablishment of the National Space Council and the R&D funding priorities memo

What are your responsibilities at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy?  

As a policy intern, I worked on a variety of issues including Space Traffic Management and Space Situational Awareness (STM/SSA), artificial intelligence, space exploration policy, and much more. While at the White House, I wrote memos, conducted research, participated in policy discussions, and aided in the general efforts of the Office.

What has been challenging? Rewarding? How has this internship influenced your goals?

When I wrote on space policy during the semester, I thought I has a good grasp of the policy issues, but when I arrived at OSTP, I realized the full myriad of policy issues went far beyond what I had identified. Learning and adapting to this new policy arena was perhaps the most challenging aspect. Another challenge comes from juggling many different policy areas in a short amount of time. For example, in a single day one may cover five or six different policy areas.

By far the most rewarding aspect is seeing a policy you worked on develop and watching it ultimately move along the policymaking process.

This internship clarified and affirmed that my passion for politics is correct and a worthy cause. My experience working with the OTSP this summer also served as a nexus of my policy interests and majors, which made it especially enjoyable and remarkable.