NASA scouts talent at Cerritos College


The NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Project is offering a course to eligible Cerritos College students. An online information session was hosted for interested students on Oct. 24. Photo credit: Mirella Vargas

Mirella Vargas, Opinion Editor

The NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Project is offering a 5-week online course to eligible Cerritos College students starting in Spring 2021 semester.

The NCAS is a national program run by NASA, which aims to give community college STEM students an authentic NASA experience and encourages them to finish a 2-year degree or transfer to a 4-year university to pursue a NASA-related field or career.

An online information session, hosted by Janet McLarty-Schroeder and Carlos Mira, was held online for students interested in the NCAS program.

“NASA is particularly interested in community college students because of a unique set of skills that you bring to the table, like multitasking, perseverance. Community college students tend to have the qualities NASA is looking for in the work force,” said McLarty-Schroeder.

To be eligible, students must be 18 years old and be a high school graduate or equivalent and have completed or in the process of completing nine or more units in science, technology, engineering or mathematics classes.

Applications for the program are now being accepted up until Nov. 18 on the NCAS website, and student selection will be announced online on Dec. 4.

The program will consist of a 5-week online activity course which starts in January 2021, and a team event taking place in the summer offered to students who pass the online course with a 70% or higher.

It is uncertain whether the team experience will be an in-person event or held virtually next year due to the pandemic.

In past events, students have been given an opportunity to network with students from other colleges, industry university researchers, NASA experts including people from Boeing and Aerospace

Students have also learned about NASA internships, and a panel of college students who have actually successfully applied and received internships, were available to answer questions.

Steven Cisneros, a computer science major who participated in the program last year, shared his experience during the Zoom conference and answered several questions the students had about the program.

“We were able to meet so many people part of the industry and we were able to visit so many laboratories that were top of the line labs – it was really great,” said Cisneros.

Another online information session will be held on Nov. 4 for students who are interested in participating.

This will be the second year that Cerritos College will be participating in the NCAS program.

Last year, Cerritos College was 1 of 6 colleges in the country that were selected to pilot the program, having been recommended by the California Space Grant, whom the college had previously worked with on a special NASA Arduino research project for students.