MCC Student Selected to National Community College Aerospace Scholars Program

Wendy Nessl, a Mesa Community College Geography student recently returned from Huntsville, Alabama where she spent three days at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center as a member of the National Community College Aerospace Scholars program.

Wendy applied for the program because of her involvement in the Phi Theta Kappa Omicron Beta chapter at MCC. She was selected to complete 20 hours of competitive pre-work this past summer with 180 student participants and NASA engineers designing a mission to Mars. This included completing four assignments, a budget timeline, three experiments and a line drawing of a rover. 

Following the pre-work, Wendy was one of 40 participants chosen to go to the NASA facilities in Huntsville. Upon arrival, the students were divided into four companies and were given the task of developing a prototype they would present to NASA at the completion of their stay.

“After arriving at NASA, it was very fast paced and rather stressful being in a new place and working closely with people you just met five minutes ago. We were able to be successful as a team by accepting pieces of the project that we knew we could do well at, and bouncing our ideas off of one another,” stated Wendy. She added, “I think we were all surprised at how quickly we were able to come together and get things done and we got much more out of our teamwork than our prototype.”

While at NASA, the group toured the facilities, learned about internship opportunities and listened to presenters such as Tim Pickens, a propulsion specialist and Frank Six, who invented NASA’s Great Moonbuggy Race. They also learned about the history of the X-15 Rocket project.

“My grandfather worked on the X-15 project at NASA in the 1960s. It was fun to see and learn what they do,” said Wendy.

Wendy is in her second year at MCC. This past summer, she worked for the National Weather Service on the Weather Balloon Project. She plans to transfer in Fall 2013 to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Meteorology and pursue a Doctorate in Astro-Physics.

Wendy encourages other students to become involved on campus so they can learn about opportunities. She explained, “This experience helped me get a firmer grasp on what I want to do for my career.”

Wendy extends her appreciation to Erin Saffell, her geography instructor, for her support and encouragement.

About Mesa Community College

Mesa Community College provides outstanding transfer and career and technical programs, workforce development, and life-long learning opportunities to residents of the East Valley area of Phoenix, Arizona. MCC excels in teaching, learning and empowering its more than 40,000 students to succeed in a local and global community.  Mesa Community College is one of ten colleges that comprise the Maricopa County Community College District.

Please direct media inquiries to Angela Askey at or Sally Mesarosh at or the Office of Institutional Advancement at 480-461-7445.  IA website:


Source Details

Publication Date: 
Monday, November 5, 2012