Reaching for the stars: ACC student operates rovers at NASA

Tanisha Bowman spent four days at NASA building and operating rovers. She isn’t an engineer or scientist, at least not yet. Bowman is a student at ACC studying computer science. After a competitive application process, she was accepted into and participated in NASA’s National Community College Aerospace Scholars project (NCAS), where she  worked NASA engineers and other NASA community college aerospace scholars.

Bowman is among 171 community college students from across the nation selected to be part of NCAS this spring. The five-week scholars program culminates with a four-day site visit at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and offers students the opportunity to interact with NASA engineers and others as they learn more about careers in science and engineering. While at NASA, students form teams. Each team develops and tests a prototype rover, forms a company infrastructure, manages a budget, and develops communications and outreach.

“Our team didn’t know if our rover would even work. During the competition our rover was able to retrieve a rock, and when it did, it brought so much joy to each of us. I have never felt so accomplished than at that moment. I know it was just a rock, but we all had the expectation that we would fail, and then we succeeded,” says Bowman. “I wouldn’t have this opportunity without ACC.”

Bowman was named “MVP” of her team.

Bowman’s dream is to work at NASA or SpaceX. She was already working at Dell in Austin when she realized to achieve her dream meant going back to school. She enrolled at ACC to pursue an associate degree in computer science.

“I did have hesitation about going back to school due to my age, but I am glad that I did. I have learned so much from ACC,” she says. “It seems as if it was yesterday when I started this journey. Now that I am almost done, I’m nervous about what is to come at a four-year university. I am more confident in myself than when I started, and with my support system, I know that I can finish.”

Bowman will graduate in May and plans to transfer to a four-year university to earn her bachelor’s degree.

When asked what advice she would give someone beginning their higher education journey, she says, “Don’t be hard on yourself because no one is perfect, just do your very best and believe in yourself, and join study groups – I learned this lesson a little late.”

Students interested in an opportunity to interact with NASA scientists and engineers may apply now for the summer and fall 2018 NCAS programs. For more information visit All applicants must be students at ACC.

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