“The whole experience was pretty life changing,” Maku said. “It was just really nice to be able to get an inside look on the types of things that go on at NASA every day.”
SAN MARCOS – Renya Maku, a junior biology major at Texas State University, participated in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) onsite experience by traveling to NASA’s Langley Research Center in October.
Maku—who applied to the program prior to transferring from Austin Community College—was selected as one of 319 community college students from across the U.S. to be part of the NCAS onsite experience.
The five-week online activity culminated with a four-day on-site event at Langley and offered Maku the opportunity to interact with NASA engineers and others as she learned more about careers in science and engineering.
While at NASA, participating students formed teams and established fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Each team was responsible for developing and testing a prototype rover, forming a company infrastructure, managing a budget and developing communications and outreach.
“The whole experience was pretty life changing,” Maku said. “It was just really nice to be able to get an inside look on the types of things that go on at NASA every day. The experience provided good insight in terms of possible career/post-secondary education options,” she said. “Overall, it provided a sense of experience that academia alone cannot provide and the main takeaway for me was just to be as involved as I can in my interests outside of academia.”
The onsite experience at NASA included briefings by NASA subject matter experts, information on how to apply for internships and a tour of NASA’s unique facilities.
NCAS is an activity funded in part by the Minority University Research and Education Program (MUREP), which is committed to engaging underrepresented and underserved students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in authentic learning experiences to sustain a diverse workforce. With this activity, NASA continues the agency’s tradition engaging the nation in NASA’s mission.
“NCAS not only inspires community college students to advance in STEM fields, but it also opens doors for future careers at NASA,” said Joeletta Patrick, MUREP manager. “NCAS has a legacy of alumni moving from NASA internships to and ultimately entering the NASA workforce. It is rewarding to see the progression of a student from NCAS participant to NASA colleague.”
For additional information, contact NCAS by email at JSC-NCAS@mail.nasa.gov, by phone at (281) 483-0493 or visit ncas.aerospacescholars.org.