Students participating in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) activity can expect to advance their capabilities in STEM, helping to prepare them for better representation and service in STEM fields. NCAS has three missions designed to challenge and build student knowledge and skills by focusing on NASA’s mission goals, collaboration, and career pathways.
Mission 1: Discover
A 5-week, self-paced online course.
This orientation to NASA sets a baseline for all students wishing to pursue subsequent NCAS missions. Students will gain a broad knowledge of what NASA has in its current plan and how they can play a role. STEM based activities embedded in the online course include live and recorded subject matter expert lectures, interactive multimedia on NASA content, interactions with fellow aerospace scholars, knowledge assessments including a final project, and guidance and support from trained professional educators.
Allows students to participate in one of two educational simulation experiences.
Exploration simulation is a gamified mission to the Moon or Mars where students develop a design solution that integrates multiple systems. This simulation highlights the acts of prioritizing and making trade-offs to remain within constraints. Career simulation situates students to take on mock roles as NASA employees to gain exposure to workplace structure and culture. This simulation highlights the personal responsibilities and team dynamics needed to accomplish a huge goal such as a lunar surface exploration mission.
Must have successfully completed the most recent NCAS Mission 1: Discover
Mission 3: Innovate
An Engineering Design Challenge.
Students will participate in a week-long robotics competition with an NCAS partner institution OR a 3-week hybrid (online/onsite) capstone project at a NASA Field Center. STEM based activities for all students will include an engineering design challenge as well as facility tours, live subject matter expert presentations, a resume workshop, a networking event, a job shadowing opportunity, and a 4-year college campus visit. Students affiliated with an NCAS partner institution will participate in a robotics competition. Robotics Competition: Students affiliated with an NCAS partner institution will participate in a robotics competition. During the 4-day engagement, students collaborate with team members as a fictitious aerospace company vying for a NASA rover contract. Working in assigned roles, students utilize STEM-industry mentors to guide the rover design. Capstone Project: Students unaffiliated with an NCAS partner institution will participate in a capstone problem based on current challenges faced by NASA mission directorates. Thus, this engagement begins with online activities two weeks prior to the actual onsite event to brief students on the emerging and relevant details of the problem. Leading up to and during the 4-day onsite event, students develop possible solutions to the capstone problem and report them to a panel of NASA guests.