From Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
Matthew Peniston of A-B Tech Community College has been selected to travel to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center this fall to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars project (NCAS).
“It’s going to be very exciting to work with people who share my interests. It will be a great opportunity to meet some of NASA’s scientists and tour the facilities,” Matthew said. “The chance to have hands on experience at one of NASA’s facilities will be incredible.”
Matthew is one of 160 community college students from across the U.S. to be part of NCAS after successfully completing the intensive five-week scholars program over the summer. The four-day on-site event in Huntsville, Ala., will be October 20-23. The program offers students the opportunity to interact with NASA engineers and others as they learn more about careers in science and engineering.
“The NCAS summer program was surprisingly involved,” Matthew said. “We covered the history of Mars missions, detailed future plans and the unique geography of Mars. Our final project was really challenging. I created my own mission statement with a mission timeline. It included detailed outlines of the craft, the team of scientists and their job specifications. We included essays based on the goals and history of the global NASA mission. It’s been eye opening to work in such detail with realistic goals and planning as mankind gets closer to landing on Mars.”
Matthew came to A-B Tech after a four-year stint as a U.S. Marine. “The Marines taught me a lot about discipline and working with very different people while getting the job done. The Marine Corp instilled the leadership that I will carry into the rest of my career.”
He tried to find a job after the Marines but found he needed a degree to get in the careers he wanted. “A-B Tech kept popping up and it had a great engineering program,” he said. Matthew plans to transfer to a four-year university after graduation.
While at NASA, students form teams and establish fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Each team is responsible for developing and testing a prototype rover, forming a company infrastructure, managing a budget, and developing communications and outreach.
NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars is a project funded in part by the Minority University Research and Education Program, or MUREP, which is committed to the recruitment of underrepresented and underserved students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to sustain a diverse workforce.
With this project, NASA continues the agency’s tradition of investing in the nation’s educational programs. It is directly tied to the agency’s major education goal of attracting and retaining students in STEM disciplines critical to NASA’s future missions, which include missions to Mars and beyond.