Santa Barbara City College Student Selected to Visit NASA

Isabel Agundis, a Santa Barbara City College student, has been selected to travel to NASA’s Johnson Space Center this spring to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars project (NCAS).
Agundis, a mechanical engineering major, is one of 348 city college students from across the U.S. to be selected to participate in the four-day on-site event from May 1-4 at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
As part of the five-week scholars program, this event at Johnson Space Center offers students the opportunity to interact with NASA engineers and others as they learn more about careers in science and engineering. 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.
The on-site experience at NASA includes a tour of facilities and briefings by NASA subject matter experts.
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.
“As a first generation Mexican-American woman chosen as one of the 2017 NASA Community College and Aerospace Scholars, I feel fortunate and humbled to represent my family, my school, and most importantly the entire Latinx community that has been fighting for equality lately,” Agundis said.
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.
NCAS not only inspires community college students to advance in STEM fields, but it also opens doors for future careers at NASA. NCAS has a legacy of alumni moving from NASA internships to and ultimately entering the NASA workforce. It is rewarding to see the progression of a student from NCAS participant to NASA colleague,” Tania B. Davis, Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Manager said.
Agundis said she is looking forward to the tour of the facility including the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, the Space Food Systems Laboratory, and the Mission Control Center, but most of all she is looking forward to meeting more community college students and professionals that are passionate about science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“This experience will allow me to learn more about robotics, 3D printing, physics, and business administration, and it will help me to determine if, upon getting my Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, I want to work in the Aerospace engineering field,” said Agundis. “Also, I want to motivate my fellow SBCC classmates to keep on pushing hard on their studies because I know we can all be as competitive for “big” opportunities like working in NASA as someone who is studying at a four year University.”

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