ACC STEM students selected to visit NASA in May

Five Austin Community College students will travel to NASA’s Johnson Space Center to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars project (NCAS).

The science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students are among 216 community college students selected nationwide for the highly competitive program.

“I’m very humbled and thankful to have even been considered. To be accepted is icing on the cake. Now we are getting ready to see the facilities first-hand. It’s something I dreamt of as a kid,” says Jason Wheeler, ACC mathematics major.

The five-week scholars program culminates with a four-day onsite event at Johnson Space Center Sunday from May 22 through 25. The students will interact with NASA engineers and others as they learn more about careers in science and engineering.

“Getting to be a part of what NASA’s doing has been an incredible experience,” says Catherine Stippick, ACC mathematics student. “I always had an interest in space. As a kid I wanted to be an astronaut. This program is giving me an opportunity that I never thought existed. I’m hoping to gain new direction and guidance about where I’m going next.”

While at NASA, students will form teams and establish fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Each team will develop and test a prototype rover, form a company infrastructure, manage a budget, and develop communications and outreach. They also will tour NASA facilities and participate in briefings by subject matter experts.

“NCAS not only inspires community college students to advance in STEM fields, but it also opens doors for future careers at NASA,” says Tania B. Davis, NASA’s minority university research and education project 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.”

ACC students may apply through Wednesday, June 1, for the NCAS fall project. The program is open to part-time and full-time students in STEM fields.

For more information, visit or contact Dr. John Underwood, ACC physics professor, at [email protected] or 512-223-3299. All applicants must be students at ACC. Learn more about registering for summer or fall classes, visit

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