BELLEVUE, Wash. - Planetary Resources is a company that wants to mine asteroids in space. It's a start-up working out of a small office park in the same city that was once home to a tiny Microsoft. Commercial space is growing and people here like to think they could grow into a Microsoft-sized mining giant of the extra terrestrial world in the decades ahead.

It's all about looking upward and forward, and there are interns along for the ride. As competition for the smart minds of the future gets tougher and tougher, companies like Planetary Resources and Boeing are looking for younger people who show promise as full time employees when they leave college in the years ahead.

Aviation High School in the Highline School District is providing six interns to Planetary Resources and four of the nine working at Boeing. That's unusual, as aerospace and engineering interns are more traditionally college-aged, not 16 to 18 year olds in high school.

We know it's very good for them, but it's very good for us as well, said Ray Ramadorai, an engineer who is heavily involved in the internship program at Planetary Resources, which also swells with college interns over the summer.

One of the interns back for his second summer recently graduated from Aviation High School. Jake Hecla says it's one of the factors he believes got him a slot at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) this fall. At Planetary Resources he's been involved with protecting electronics in space from the effects of radiation. He could see himself coming back to Planetary Resources in the future.

It's much better than a 30 minute job interview, said Chris Lewicki, Planetary Resources president and chief engineer. If we can bring someone to the company, spend 10 weeks with them, spend 10 months with them, it's the best job interview you can have.

Katie McConville is heading into her senior year at Aviation High School. She interned at Planetary Resources between her sophomore and junior year as a 16 year old and plans to continue her internship part time during the school year.

It's actually a taste of what the actual job would be, McConville said.

The internship program at Planetary Resources and Boeing are both paid.

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