FC students chosen for NASA program

Myah Phillips

A total of five Fullerton College students had been selected for the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS), over the summer, providing them with both an online and onsite aerospace experience at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center.

Selected among 280 community college applicants, Patrick Babb and Michelle Yoon were two of the five students selected from Fullerton College to be apart of this scholar program that began in Mar. 2018, and has just completed.

NCAS pose with NASA
Patrick Babb, Ali Malik, Michelle Yoon, et al pose with NASA scientists. Photo credit: Lauren Hughes

“I applied to the NCAS program because I’m interested in pushing the limits of human exploration in space and improve life here on Earth,” said Babbs. “This aligns well with NASA’s vision.”

Patrick Babb plans on transferring to Cal State Fullerton to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and stay to earn a masters or PhD. He intends to work in the aerospace industry, potentially creating a business further in the future.

Getting the full NASA experience, Babbs enjoyed all of the opportunities that NCAS provided him with and loved being able to fully immerse himself into his passion–STEM.

Patrick Babb-NASA
NCAS participant Patrick Babb poses in front of a NASA aircraft. Photo credit: Lauren Hughes

“I’ve always loved space and airplanes since childhood. I would always get butterflies whenever I flew or was around an aircraft. I never really made a choice to do STEM, rather, my interests led me there,” continued Babbs. “[Going into the program] I was most excited about working with like minded individuals toward a common goal.”

Also participating in the program was Michelle Yoon. She plans on applying to Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly Pomona, and UC Irvine in fall 2019.

“It would be a pleasure to work for NASA. I would be most interested in their robotic exploration division. I would want to be a part of the design, build or engineer, and program robots or rovers to explore Martian environments. And that’s something that I got to experience hands on when I went to NCAS,” said Yoon.

The program was split into two parts, interactive web-based activities and an onsite experience. The online experience includes, online interaction with participants across the country, and webinars with NASA engineers or scientists. At the NASA facilities, participants will work on a team project mentored by NASA engineers, attend briefings by engineers and scientists, tour NASA facilities and compete in a rover competition.

NCAS cover photo
NCAS participants test their rover project and document their results. Photo credit: Lauren Hughes

“The most exciting aspect of the program was the hands on experience of the challenge,” added Yoon. “Being able to work with 10 students from all over the nation and design a self automated rover programmed to collect rock on a mock Mars terrain was a lot of fun.”

Any community college student interested in the STEM disciplines who has taken or is concurrently enrolled in 9 or more hours of STEM coursework is eligible to apply. The program is funded by the Minority University Research Education Program, thus covering all expenses for travel, lodging, meals, and project supplies while at NASA.

“I hope to work with NASA in the future. My acceptance into NCAS made NASA seem more attainable,” stated Babb. “Going to NCAS was a very enlightening experience that I would recommend to anyone interested in NASA.”

For Yoon, this program was extremely influential and inspiring, so much so that she and a former NCAS student have formed an outreach program to recruit students for NCAS.

“To see how dedicated the mentors and guest speakers were to promote STEM education inspired me to want to do the same,” stated Yoon. “A former NCAS student and I are participating in a NCAS outreach program where we introduce NCAS to students on campus. We’ve reached out to clubs and classes to get students involved with NCAS. I want students to get the same opportunity as I did because it was an amazing learning experience.”

For those interested in applying to the program visit the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars by email at [email protected]mail.nasa.gov or by phone at 281-483-0493. For more information please visit http://ncas.aerospacescholars.org/.