CCC students can now become aerospace scholars at NASA


Courtesy of NASA

Late last year, Contra Costa College was selected by NASA to be the only community college in Northern California to be a part of the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholar Program (NCAS).

Now, college faculty and leaders are encouraging CCC students interested in science and technology to be part of the program.

The NCAS program is offered to STEM students to complete three NASA goal “missions,” or phases of the program. 

According to NASA’s website, NCAS has three missions designed to challenge and build student knowledge and skills by focusing on NASA’s mission goals, collaboration and career pathways.

According to the NCAS website, to be eligible for the program students must have: U.S. citizenship, be at least 18 years of age, currently attend a community college, complete more than nine hours of STEM coursework, and be able to commit to a five-week online course. It is important for students to know that you don’t have to be a STEM major in order to participate. 

The first mission concludes a five-week online course that a student must take and successfully pass in order to go on the next two missions, where students will explore and complete a simulation of going to Mars or the moon. In the third and last mission, participants will take part in an engineering design challenge that will take place on campus. Students must be able to complete all missions successfully in order to go on to the next mission.

Students are encouraged but not required to take computer science or engineering class through the summer or fall semester to work on their computer and engineering skills. 

 “Life is challenging and it’s hard for students to do this without getting any credit, so the big thing for a student to realize is if I stick to this I’m going to learn a lot and it’s gonna carry over in a lot of different ways,” said Jon Celesia, chair of the Astronomy, Physics, Engineering/Geology, and the Computer Science Department at CCC. 

CCC Science Center faculty have said they are thrilled for students to be a part of this program, since after successfully completing all missions, they will have the opportunity for internships with NASA and officially be NCAS NASA alumni.

“It’s so exclusive – there are so few schools in the state of California and actually the U.S. that have this program,” said Rene Sporer, the dean of the college’s Department of Natural, Social, and Applied Sciences.

It says something about what they think about our school and our students around here and their capabilities that they would give us this program. It gives the chance for our students to really excel in an area that most students don’t have.” 

According to Celesia, CCC is also now officially called a NASA center, and faculty are feeling very excited to be given that title.

The APECS department here at CCC will be recruiting and taking applications starting now all the way to the 2023 fall semester. 

For students who are interested in the program can apply through the NASA NCAS website or through the APECS department.