The NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) Program is intended to assist college students interested in STEM careers gain experience within NASA. My goal is to earn a degree Astronomy, thus when this opportunity was recommended to me, I researched the program and applied. During the experience, I was introduced to like-minded colleagues and applied the knowledge I have in my field to the challenges posed to me during the program.
It helped me understand the roles and expectations that will be placed upon me in my future STEM career.
The NCAS Course:
The first part of NCAS is a 5-week course you work through individually. There are usually 3-4 topics you progress through as well as a final project. The topics range from history, engineering, astronomy, etc. You are given several choices for a final project which is advised to be worked on the entire 5-weeks. If you score high enough in the course, you might be invited to the onsite.
The NCAS Onsite Experience:
Typically held at a NASA facility, my “onsite” was held virtually due to Covid-19. That didn’t lessen the experience however. I still worked with my crew to design a successful mission to Mars that resulted in high scientific gain within the constraints of our mechanical systems, budget, and outreach.
❖ The first goal for NCAS is to advance our understanding of Earth and develop technologies to improve the quality of life on our home planet.
❖ The second goal of NCAS is to advance the nation’s STEM education and workforce pipeline by working collaboratively with other agencies to engage
students, teachers and faculty in NASA’s missions and unique assets.
What NCAS Can Do for Your Career:
During NCAS, participants learn skills including research and teamwork which are essential in STEM careers. This was my first experience in a professional research setting. I learned about the expectations and techniques present in STEM fields. This program also allows students to network within their field in anticipation for selective job opportunities.
“It was the single most inspiring thing I’ve ever done!” – Cody Rogers, NCAS Alumni
“NCAS as truly an inspiring opportunity that allowed me to grow and gain more confidence in my pursuit of STEM (engineering). You get the chance to not only gain more experience with technical and research skills, but also making meaningful connections with your crew mates and NASA professionals. I had the honor of working together with a wonderful team to build a mission together, and it was a genuinely priceless experience.” -Megan Chan, NCAS Alumni
NCAS is a unique experience available to community college students.
❖ Individual and Group Projects
❖ Time Commitment
❖ In the opinion of myself and my crew, it was an unforgettable experience that inspired us to continue within a STEM career field and provided further
opportunities to us.
❖ It taught us the realities of STEM jobs including the responsibility and workload expected of professionals.
❖ If there are any community college students interested in a STEM career field, I highly recommend applying for NCAS. This is an opportunity too exceptional to miss.
NASA. “NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars – Oklahoma State University.” NASA STEM Pathways Activities – Consortium for Education,
—. “NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS).” NASA, 4 Mar. 2020, www.nasa.gov/stem/murep/projects/ncas.html.