El Camino College Aerospace Engineering Student to Participate in NASA Summer Research Program
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El Camino College Aerospace Engineering Student to Participate in NASA Summer Research Program

Jessica De la Cruz recently graduated from El Camino College with an exemplary GPA, research experience and scholarships. She is now looking forward to transferring to the University of California, Irvine this fall to continue her studies as an aerospace engineering major.

But before that, she has summer plans. Next stop: NASA.

Jessica is one of 280 community college students from across the nation who will travel to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center this summer to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) onsite experience. 

“I’m very excited to start working with NASA this summer,” she said. “This will be my first opportunity to start working in the aerospace industry. I hope this program will help me network and learn from other professionals in the field.” 

The five-week online activity culminates with a four-day on-site event at the Armstrong Flight Research Center located at Edwards Air Force Base. The program 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. Jessica will also participate in briefings by NASA subject matter experts, learn about internships, and tour NASA’s unique facilities. 

“Through specialized academic activities such as this experience with NASA, El Camino College STEM students have a unique opportunity to gain career insights and first-hand knowledge about what it is like working in their area of interest,” said El Camino College President Dena P. Maloney. “We thank NASA for its commitment to education and for making students aware of the many opportunities available in science fields.” 

As an ECC student, Jessica was a member of the Honors Transfer Program and Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement Program (MESA) – both offered support and opportunities for academic enrichment. 

“MESA was crucial to help me succeed,” Jessica said. “MESA helped me to meet my goals by fostering a community where I could access tutoring and counseling specialized for science students. With MESA, I was part of an academic community where we could form study groups and excel despite the rigor of our classes.” 

The El Camino College MESA|STEM Program is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the state, serving over 770 students this year. About 135 MESA|STEM graduates will transfer this fall to four-year colleges and universities such as UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, California State University, Long Beach and Cal Poly Pomona. 

MESA|STEM students are offered support for challenging coursework, leadership preparation, internships, research opportunities and problem-solving workshops. Other program benefits include counseling support and access to the MESA|STEM Center to meet with study groups. Scholarships are also available - nearly 80 MESA|STEM students will receive a total of $114,400 in scholarships to continue their education in the upcoming academic year. 

“I will always be a Warrior and leaving El Camino College is bittersweet,” Jessica said. “However, I am excited to be transferring to UC Irvine. I’m also grateful for the opportunities I was given at El Camino College and proud to represent the college this summer at the Armstrong Flight Research Center.” 

For more information about the MESA|STEM program at El Camino College view www.elcamino.edu/academics/mathsciences/mesa/. El Camino College’s fall 2018 semester begins August 25; applications are available online. For more information about ECC, visit  www.elcamino.edu.

July 24, 2018