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photo of DCCCD student

For immediate release — June 2011

Editors’ note: A complete list of DCCCD students who attended NASA CAS this year is provided at the end of this story; students names’ are listed by hometown.

(DALLAS) — No more Red Planet disasters. No lost space probes. No failures.

That was the mission given to 46 Dallas County Community College District students who were asked to design a Mars rover that could maneuver the Red Planet’s terrain during their three-day visit to the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The project — which included an actual debriefing with NASA astronauts on Discovery shuttle mission STS-133 — was part of DCCCD’s special partnership in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Program.

DCCCD, in partnership with the NASA CAS program, brings the largest number of students from its seven colleges to NASA through assignments that involved both interactive, Web-based learning activities plus an on-site experience at the Johnson Space Center. The DCCCD scholars participated in the team project — designing the Mars rover — and were directed by NASA engineers. They also toured the facilities and received an exclusive invitation to meet the crew and attend the debriefing for STS-133.

DCCCD’s partnership with NASA is designed to encourage students to consider or continue a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) career path. “Our participation in NASA CAS encourages DCCCD students to take a leadership role in their educational environment,” says Perla Molina, who coordinates the NASA CAS program for DCCCD. “In the past, the NASA CAS program was open to community college students throughout Texas. This year, based on DCCCD’s participation, we had an exclusive agreement with NASA CAS for our students.”

DCCCD has participated in the NASA CAS program for nine years (including the spring 2011 class), sending more than 125 students to become aerospace scholars. This year, 46 of the 87 applicants from the district’s colleges were selected to participate, based on a specific set of criteria.

photo of Mars Rover model built by DCCCD students

Duncanville — Juan Ochoa, Mountain View College

Farmers Branch — Brandi Arledge, Brookhaven College

Flower Mound — Aneel Devaraju, North Lake College

Fort Worth — Aleta Chavez, Cedar Valley College

Garland — Mohamed Hassan, Brookhaven College; Allycia Hennum and Brandon Quach, Richland College; Ampelio Mendez, Bryan Palma and Andrew Parrill from Eastfield College; Saray Pesina, El Centro College

Grand Prairie — Jose Baez, North Lake College; Joel Rodriguez, Mountain View College

Greenville — Chesley Kraniak, Eastfield College

Irving — Nathan Miller, North Lake College

Lancaster — Marcus Brewer, Cedar Valley College

Lantana — Danny Nguyen, North Lake College

Lewisville — Jubenal Aguilar, El Centro College; Christina Townsend, Brookhaven College

Mesquite — Lura Chambers, Sheka Kanu and Tamara Starling from Eastfield College

Rockwall — Colby Purcell, Richland College

Sunnyvale — Amitpal Dhillon, Eastfield College; Gregory Duckworth, Mountain View College

The Colony — Richard Campbell, North Lake College

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Press contact: Ann Hatch