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NASA Selects Community College Scholars For Chance To Design Space Rovers

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by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Apr 22, 2010
Seventy-six students from community colleges in 28 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have been selected to travel to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, May 20-22, for an out-of-this-world experience. They will participate in a three-day on-site event to develop robotic explorers that will rove the surfaces of other worlds.

This event is the culmination of the National Community College Aerospace Scholars pilot program. Students completed four Web-based assignments during the school year. Those who maintained a 95 average qualified for the experience at Johnson. NASA will pay the students' travel expenses.

They will apply what they have learned during the year after interacting with NASA engineers and learn more about careers in science and engineering.

Program participants will form teams and establish fictitious companies interested in Mars exploration during the event. Each team will be responsible for developing a prototype rover, designing a line drawing of their rover, and forming a company infrastructure, including budget, communications and presentations.

The on-site experience includes a tour of Johnson facilities and briefings from NASA employees, including astronauts.

"This represents another innovative NASA project whereby community college students engage in actual engineering design and production - from concept to build-out - that simulate the process NASA uses in designing robotic explorers for solar system destinations," said Joyce Winterton, associate administrator for Education at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

"It successfully demonstrates and furthers the participants' academic knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,"

The students represent Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

"NASA is very proud of the outstanding work these students already have completed, and we look forward to seeing their rover designs," said Deborah Hutchings, the program manager at Johnson. "These students have a unique opportunity to preview how a career in science, technology, engineering or math can lead them on a journey of space exploration."

The National Community College Aerospace Scholars is a pilot program based on the Texas Aerospace Scholars, a program created by the state of Texas in partnership with Johnson and the Texas education community. Both programs are designed to encourage community and junior college students to enter careers in science and engineering, and join the nation's high technology workforce.

With this program, NASA continues the agency's investment in the nation's students with a goal of attracting them to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines critical to NASA's future missions.

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