ACC students may apply now for NASA space exploration program

Austin Community College students interested in a unique opportunity to interact with NASA scientists and engineers may apply now for NASA’s National Community College Aerospace Scholars project (NCAS). The program is open to part-time and full-time students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Applications for fall are accepted through June 24.

“These are the opportunities that can launch a new direction for students who aren’t quite sure what STEM path they want to take,” says Dr. James E. Heath, ACC Physics Department chair. “To work alongside NASA’s lead engineers and scientists is something that they’ll treasure for the rest of their lives.

ACC students Tara Tomlinson and Nghiem Tran were among 240 community college students nationwide accepted into the five-week program in spring.NASA Tran

“Those three days are among the best days of my life,” says Tran. “Getting a chance to learn directly from NASA engineers and work firsthand with their equipment was incredible.”

The NCAS project included a three-day workshop at NASA where students form teams, establish fictional companies interested in Mars exploration, and design and build a prototype rover.

“Space exploration has always been my passion, but I didn’t follow my heart at first,” says Tomlinson. “It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I realized I could change my path. So I enrolled at ACC for a chance to start over.”

Tomlinson is 20 hours shy of her associate degree and plans to continue working toward her masters in astrophysics.

Tran is completing his final coursework during summer sessions and will transfer to a university in fall.

“My professors are the ones who encouraged me to apply for the program. I wouldn’t have had this experience if it weren’t for ACC,” says Tran.

For more information visit All applicants must be students at ACC. To register for fall classes visit

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