Wallace State Community College student David Schwaiger has been selected to travel to NASA’s Stennis Space Center this spring to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Project (NCAS).
Schwaiger has been chosen among select community college students from across the U.S. to be part of NCAS in Mississippi.
The five-week scholars program culminates with a four-day on-site event at Stennis Space Center and 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.
“I’ve always been interested in anything to do with space or astronomy and finding a way to get involved with NASA. I’ve also always been strong in science and math, so I’m glad I happened to stumble across the opportunity,” Schwaiger said. “I’m excited to get some hands-on experience and see where it takes me.”
Schwaiger, 37, enrolled at Wallace State in January 2016 after spending the majority of his life working in construction. As a construction superintendent, Schwaiger is on track to graduate from Wallace State in May with an associate degree in general studies.
Schwaiger plans to major in physics at a four-year college upon transferring from Wallace State.
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.
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 students from NCAS participant to NASA colleague,” said Tania B, Davis, Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Manager.