A-B Tech Community College Student Selected to Visit NASA this October

Matthew Peniston, A-B Tech student selected to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars project (NCAS). Photo courtesy of A-B Tech

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.

About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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3 thoughts on “A-B Tech Community College Student Selected to Visit NASA this October

  1. Jim Sullivan

    This is fantastic news Matthew! Congratulations and good luck in Huntsville.

  2. Joan Heller

    What a development and what progress you’ve made. When I recall your intention from the outset, it makes a lot of sense that you are getting this opportunity.

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