two valencia students selected to NASA’s aerospace scholars program

Valencia Community College sophomores Denise Rudy and Delores Petropulos, who attend the college’s East Campus, have been selected to travel to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston October 20-22, 2010, to participate in a three-day on-site event.

They were selected as two of 89 community and junior college students from across the nation to be part of the National Community College Aerospace Scholars program. Students completed four Web-based assignments during the school year, maintaining a 93 average to qualify for the experience.  They will apply what they have learned during the year to work with NASA engineers.

Thrilled to learn of her selection to the NASA program, Rudy, a 4.0 grade point average student who took a ten-year detour through the workforce, proves it’s never too late to pursue a dream. “I’m starting to really believe that the sky is nowhere near the limit and that anything is possible,” she said. Rudy now has her sights set on applying to Cal Tech and Stanford as well as UCF. She plans to pursue her academic interests in geophysics and aeronautical engineering.

Petropulos, another non-traditional student, also has dyslexia. “I have to work harder than a lot of the students, but it has made me cherish these accomplishments a lot more,” she said. A computer programming student at Valencia, Petropulos has been inspired by the NASA program to pursue a career in robotics programming, perhaps in aerospace or within the medical field.

The program is a three-day on-site event at Johnson and offers students from across the nation the opportunity to interact with each other as they learn more about careers in science and engineering. While at Johnson, students form teams and establish fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Each company is responsible for developing a prototype rover, designing a line drawing of the rover, and forming the company infrastructure including budget, communications, and presentations. The experience at Johnson includes a tour of facilities and briefings by noted NASA employees—including astronauts.

National Community College Aerospace Scholars is a program based on Texas Aerospace Scholars, originally created by the state of Texas in partnership with NASA and the Texas educational community. Both programs are designed to encourage community and junior college students to enter careers in science and engineering and ultimately join the nation’s highly technical workforce.

With this program, NASA continues the agency’s investment in educational programs that attract and retain students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, disciplines critical to NASA’s future missions.

For additional information, please contact Deborah Hutchings, National Community College Aerospace Scholars program manager at 281-483-8623 or deborah.hutchings-1@nasa.gov. For more information, please visit their website.

Source: Lucy Boudet, Marketing and Strategic Communications, Valencia Community College; Valencia News; http://news.valenciacc.edu

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