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Five Blinn students selected for NASA’s Community College Aerospace Scholars Project

Students will visit Johnson Space Center to tour facilities and learn from NASA experts

April 12, 2016

Five Blinn College students have been selected to travel to NASA’s Johnson Space Center this spring to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Project.

Keefe Baker (Acton, Mass.), Hugo Villarreal (McKinney), Austin Pittman (Bulverde), William Pope (Friendswood) and Hunter Curb (Austin) were among the 216 community college students from across the nation selected to be part of the five-week scholars program. The students will interact with NASA engineers and others as they learn more about careers in science and engineering during a four-day on-site event at Johnson Space Center.

While at NASA, students form teams and establish fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Each team is responsible for developing and testing a prototype rover, forming a company infrastructure, managing a budget, and developing communications and outreach. The on-site experience includes a facilities tour and briefings by NASA subject matter experts.

“With this being a national program, they have thousands of students that are applying,” said Travis Knodel, Blinn mathematics professor. “These students go through this process of thinking how much it will cost to build a Martian rover, what kinds of things NASA is interested in, what kinds of technology NASA is using right now and what they will use moving toward. As they get to thinking about this, they are creating a mock presentation to NASA.”

NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) is funded by the Minority University Research and Education Program (MUREP), which is committed to the recruitment of underrepresented and underserved students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to sustain a diverse workforce.

“NCAS not only inspires community college students to advance in STEM fields, but it also opens doors for future careers at NASA,” said Tania B. Davis, MUREP manager. “NCAS has a legacy of alumni moving from NASA internships to ultimately entering the NASA workforce. It is rewarding to see the progression of a student from NCAS participant to NASA colleague.”

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PHOTO – From left: Blinn College students Hugo Villarreal, Keefe Baker, Austin Pittmann, Hunter Curb and William Pope (not pictured) have been selected to travel to NASA’s Johnson Space Center this spring to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Project.