Seventy-five National Community College Aerospace Scholars got the chance to spend three days at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston designing a robotic space explorer and planning a business, reports Community College Times. Ashley Allman, who earned an associate degree in aeronautical aerospace engineering from Seattle Central Community College, helped design a mock company and build a prototype of a Mars rover.
“What we were trying to do was sell our particular rover to NASA, trying to get them to buy our concept, as if we were a company making a presentation,” Allman continues. “It was all designed to give us the kind of experience that real-world engineers would have: you have constrains, you have a budget, you have time limits and you have to present yourself.”
NASA hopes aerospace scholars will be motivated to earn a four-year degree in science or engineering, then return to intern at NASA and qualify for a full-time job
To reach out to community college students, NASA’s Undergraduate Student Research Program offers internships to prepare students for STEM careers. The Space Technologies Education Program develops advanced mechanical and electronic technology skills.
NASA’s workforce is aging.
“We are very interested in the next generation, which is why we are trying to do what we can to recruit and retain community college students to go into the sciences by providing them with competitive scholarships,” says J. Carlos Chavez, student coordinator with the Washington state NASA Space Grant Consortium.
Foothill-DeAnza Community College District (California) and the University of California at Santa Cruz have partnered with the NASA Ames Research Center to create a “sustainable community for education and research” at NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley.