Isai Uriarte of Phoenix has been selected to attend the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) Onsite Experience at Johnson Space Center, September 23-27, 2019. Uriarte is one of the selected participants out of 499 community college students from across the U.S. to be part of NCAS. Uriarte successfully completed a five-week online course which led to a visit to a NASA center. 

“Being offered the opportunity to go to this NASA event means so much to me, it shows that hard work really pays off. I’m looking forward to taking on the challenges that are to come at this event with my team,” said Uriarte. “Going to Johnson Space Center and networking will open lots of doors for future internships and possibly a full-time position when I graduate.”

The five-week online activity culminates with a four-day onsite event at a NASA center which offers students the opportunity to 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 path that led me here was by last resort I would say. I was at a point where I was unsure if I wanted to stay in school, as I was in and out of school every semester because I wasn’t as interested in business anymore. Growing up, I was always into seeing how machines work, opening machines and putting them back together, or even fixing them if I figured out how to. I decided to try engineering for a semester before enlisting into the military. That is when I fell in love with it! Figuring out how to solve difficult problems and meeting great people with similar goals as myself are what inspired me to continue this journey. Also, there are only eight people from Arizona to be selected to go to different schools and space centers,” said Uriarte.

The event includes briefings by NASA subject matter experts, information on how to apply for NASA internships, and a tour of NASA’s unique facilities. The Minority University Research and Education Program, or MUREP funds NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars. MUREP is committed to engaging underrepresented and underserved students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with authentic learning experiences to sustain a diverse workforce.  

With this activity, NASA continues the agency’s tradition of engaging the nation in NASA’s mission and leading an innovative and sustainable program of exploration to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities.

“NCAS not only inspires community college students to advance in STEM fields, but it also opens doors for future careers at NASA.  NCAS alumni often move on to NASA internships and ultimately enter the NASA workforce.  It is rewarding to see the progression of a student from NCAS participant to NASA colleague,” says Torry Johnson, Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Manager. 


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