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photo of DCCCD student

For immediate release — December 2011

(DALLAS) – Space is the final frontier for Dallas County Community College District students who want to become NASA Aerospace Scholars.

While voyages on the U.S.S. Enterprise may be in the distant future, 46 DCCCD students have an opportunity to partner with NASA to become aerospace scholars next spring, learning about space and applying some unique experiences through science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

DCCCD, in partnership with NASA’s Community College Aerospace Scholars program, brings the largest number of students from its seven colleges to NASA in a program that involves both interactive, Web-based learning activities and an on-site experience at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. In Houston, the scholars will participate in a team project directed by NASA engineers, attend astronaut briefings and tour the JSC facilities.

photo of Mars Rover model built by DCCCD students

Interested applicants from DCCCD also should know that the CAS program involves 12 to 15 hours of online pre-work (before they go to Houston) and interaction with other participants.

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

“Community college students participate in a unique on-site team project through this scholars program,” said Jessica Cejka, program manager for NASA’s Texas Aerospace Scholars. “CAS encourages Texas community college students to explore the exciting possibilities of careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics while they engage in activities to explore engineering first-hand. The program also educates them about various NASA educational opportunities that are available to college students.”

Last year, before 46 DCCCD students left for the Johnson Space Center, they already had Mars on their minds. Their first NASA assignment was to research and design a Mars rover that could successfully handle the planet’s terrain. With plans in hand, the group formed four teams when they arrived in Houston and were assigned roles that would enable each team to complete the phases of the mock Mars rover development. They followed the specifications they received in a NASA request for proposal and then built the robotic rover. From Mission Control to Mars, students from all seven DCCCD colleges were excited to participate and awed by the opportunity to attend a real astronaut debriefing and meet the crew members personally from STS-133.

DCCCD has participated in the NASA CAS program for 10 years (including spring 2012), sending more than 170 students to become aerospace scholars.

For additional information, contact Canales by phone at (214) 378-1738 or by email at

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Press contact: Ann Hatch