Mesa Community College student Bryan Plummer was one of 80 students from community colleges in 28 states and Puerto Rico who were selected to travel to a NASA center to develop robotic rovers. The National Community College Aerospace Scholars program encourages students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
Plummer visited NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Participants were selected based on completion of Web-based assignments during the school year.
The students established teams and formed fictitious companies pursuing Mars exploration. Each team shaped a company infrastructure to develop and design a prototype rover. The on-site experience included a tour of NASA facilities and briefings from agency scientists, engineers and astronauts.
"This innovative experience allows students to take what they've learned in the classroom and apply it to technical questions in the real world, simulating what NASA engineers and scientists do every day," said Leland Melvin, NASA associate administrator for education. "It will help them develop the skills they need to be the problem solving explorers of tomorrow."
Plummer, who graduates in May from MCC and plans to earn a Ph.D. in Robotics, said the experience was very inspiring. His team’s robot received a perfect score and their fictitious company “won” a contract with NASA.
“The chance to be with other engineers and work together on a project was amazing,” Plummer said. “If nothing else, just being in that environment was exciting. We got to sit in on a meeting about the Mars rover and learn what it would be doing over the next few days.”
The program is based on the state of Texas' Aerospace Scholars, originally created in partnership with NASA and the Lone Star state's educational community. The programs are designed to encourage community and junior college students to enter careers in science and engineering and ultimately join the nation's highly technical workforce.
Through this program, NASA continues the agency's investment in educational programs that attract and retain students in STEM disciplines critical to NASA's future missions.
In addition to this program, Plummer will also work as an intern at the Goddard Space Center in Maryland this summer.
For a complete list of the students, their states and the community colleges they represent, visit:
For more information about NASA's National Community College Aerospace Scholars Program, visit:
For more information about NASA's education programs, visit: