The Student Voice Of Contra Costa College, San Pablo, Calif.

The Advocate

The Student Voice Of Contra Costa College, San Pablo, Calif.

The Advocate

CCC professor says college is offering courses connecting to NCAS

Jon Celesia, Contra Costa Colleges APEC Department Chairperson sat down with The Advocate to discuss NCAS, potential life in our solar system.

Thanks to their own STEM department, the Contra Costa College to NASA pipeline is open and soon to be flowing. For those who are unaware, STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The department offers several unique and innovative career paths ranging from Mathematics (language of the Universe), to Biotechnology (perhaps the future of humanity), and Astronomy (just downright fun and not at all complicated), as well as several other programs. 

In a recent interview with  Jon Celesia, head of CCC’s Department of Astronomy, Physics, Engineering, Geology and Computer Science, explained how APEC and NASA have partnered together to create the revolutionary new NASA Community College Aerospace Scholar Program (NCAS), which among other things, could lead to a potential internship with NASA.

“We are the only Northern California campus to be a partner with NASA. Participants have a chance to simulate working on a mission with NASA, they get opportunities for internships and connections, and they can put it on their resume.” 

According to the NCAS website, there are three missions to be completed. Mission one entails a five week self-paced online course where participants will learn from NASA directly. This mission will provide a general idea of what participants can expect from the NCAS program. According to Celesia mission one “is not academically challenging but very enriching,” 

Participants who successfully complete mission one are eligible to move on to mission two, which consists of an in-person workshop where participants will work in close quarters to simulate real life on-the-job scenarios for NASA. Mission two highlights the need to work as a team under intense pressure to achieve important goals. 

For those stalwart survivors of mission two, it’s on to mission three, where participants will engage in an intense four-day robotics competition, in which  “students collaborate with team members as a fictitious aerospace company vying for a NASA rover contract” according to the website. 

CCC is also offering courses paralleling the NCAS program to help those students aiming to participate. INDIS-095 is a math and engineering mentoring lab, and INDIS-100 is a robotics design/build course. Professor Celesia hopes that INDIS-895 will be a new course that will parallel mission three allowing people to experience the simulation without having to participate.

Celesia graduated from the University of California Berkeley in 1988 and is no stranger to issues of social justice. He was involved in the ‘Sudan Movement’, which were protests against Apartheid in South Africa. 

“I felt we needed to put pressure on South Africa, so I was part of the Sudan movement, and I was part of the group that was dragged away to Santa Rita,” Celesia said.” But it was nonviolent, there was no vandalism, and we didn’t block learning,”

He is aware, and when time allows, a fan of the critically acclaimed and massively popular ‘Rick and Morty’ animated show. While Celesia did dodge the question of whether intelligent life exists somewhere in the universe with the skill of a seasoned politician, he does believe the odds are yes there is. 

In a question that can be answered in a more realistic time frame, I asked his opinion of whether life (intelligent or otherwise, probably otherwise) exists within our solar system. Celesia’s three top ranked candidates are:

  1. Subterranean Mars
  2. Europa (one of Jupiter’s many moons)
  3. Titan (Saturn’s largest moon and interestingly here life may exist in methane, not water)

He also has two adorable Boxers, (The dog breed. It never hurts to clarify), Stella and Luigi, who happen to be siblings. And he drives a sweet 1981 Fiat spider convertible silver with a black top, but his dream car is a 1965 Ferrari GTS 275. However, for now, Celesia and the APEC department are focused on the upcoming NCAS project as well as all the cutting-edge programs CCC’s STEM department has to offer. 

There are certain eligibility requirements for the NCAS program so those interested should check the CCC website.


Want to stay in the loop on news in and around West Contra Costa County and Contra Costa College? Add your email address to receive The Advocate's monthly newsletter.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Ilan Helfman
Ilan Helfman, Advocate Staff

Comments (0)

All The Advocate Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *