Two WCTC students to participate in NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program
For two Waukesha County Technical College students, the sky’s the limit when it comes to their learning.
Kalila Master and Telemachos Agoudemos, students in WCTC’s Electrical Engineering Technology and Mechanical Engineering Technology programs, respectively, will travel later this month – Feb. 20 to 23 -- to NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) onsite experience.
In order to be selected for the onsite experience, students must successfully finish an intensive five-week NCAS online component that consists of 20 hours of web-based work, interaction with other participants, webinars with NASA scientists and engineers and completion of a unique NASA project.
Master and Agoudemos completed this activity in fall, earning high scores, and were asked to participate in phase two -- the NCAS onsite experience. The WCTC students were two of just 152 community/technical college students who will move on to the onsite experience.
“I stumbled across (NCAS program) in a news article, and I thought, ‘you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket,’ so I went for it, and I won!” Agoudemos said. “I was surprised to be chosen, and I’m excited to be able to be going. I don’t think this was an opportunity I’d have at a four-year college.”
Both students say a highlight of the forthcoming visit to the Stennis Space Center – NASA’s largest rocket testing site -- will be meeting and learning from those who work in the aerospace industry.
“For everyone who goes, there will be a lot of opportunities to network and meet new people. There’s a chance to meet people from Lockheed and SpaceX,” Agoudemos said. “What I’m most looking forward to, is checking out a field that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.”
Added Master: “I’m really excited to see the ins and outs of the Space Center, and I’m hoping they test out a rocket while we’re there,” she said.
As aerospace scholars, Agoudemos and Master will work on a group project mentored by NASA engineers, attend briefings led by engineers and scientists, and tour NASA facilities. Participating scholars will form teams and establish a fictional company that is interested in Mars exploration, and each team will be responsible for creating and testing a prototype rover, forming a company infrastructure, managing a budget, and developing communications and outreach.
A main goal of NCAS is to help students make connections between a STEM degree and career opportunities, while also motivating students to participate in other competitive NASA programs. NCAS is funded by NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) and encourages community college students to finish their two-year degree and pursue a four-year degree or career in a STEM field.
Master and Agoudemos are the first two WCTC students to participate in the NCAS program. To learn more about the aerospace scholars program, check out https://nas.okstate.edu/ncas/.