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​(NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Program)

Contact: Ann Hatch

For immediate release — Dec. 11, 2013

(DALLAS) — Star gazers can become scientists and dreamers can become inventors — especially students who attend one of the seven colleges in the Dallas County Community College District. DCCCD students are eligible to apply for a spot as a NASA Community College Aerospace Scholar, where they can plan for the future, build robots for space and create careers in STEM fields that include science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

While “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” may be light years away, the science of space is evolving now. That voyage of exploration into the final frontier — space — continues, and 50 students from Brookhaven, Cedar Valley, Eastfield, El Centro, Mountain View, North Lake and Richland colleges have an opportunity to partner with NASA to become aerospace scholars this spring, learning about space and applying some unique experiences through the STEM fields.

DCCCD, in partnership with the NASA CAS 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 JSC facilities.

The three-day visit is scheduled March 19-21, 2014. Students must apply by submitting a form provided on NASA’s website at: The deadline to submit an application is Feb. 4, 2014. For more information about DCCCD’s process, visit

Transportation, meals, lodging and supplies are provided at no cost to students from the system’s colleges who are selected as NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars. NASA CAS is funded by the state of Texas, administered by NASA JSC and supported by the San Jacinto College District. DCCCD also will pay for the cost of registration once students’ forms are returned, the online modules are completed and the district’s 50 scholars (and 10 alternates) are selected.

Students must be enrolled for a minimum of nine credit hours. Many participants have a strong background in computers and/or science and engineering, but only nine credit hours in STEM-related courses is required.

“Students who apply and complete the online modules will attend the three-day experience in Houston. They will learn about NASA internships, fellowships, scholarships and other educational opportunities at NASA JSC and other NASA centers,” said Perla Molina, director of outreach and recruitment in the district’s outreach office. “They also will have the opportunity to experience engineering first-hand by working with engineers and scientists.”

Eligible DCCCD students/participants must be:

  • Current credit students enrolled for a minimum of nine credit hours during the spring 2014 semester who are attending one of the seven colleges in DCCCD’s system; must also have a 2.0 grade point average; and must have a cumulative total of nine credit hours completed in science, technology, engineering or mathematics courses;

  • A U.S. citizen (permanent residents are not eligible);

  • At least 18 years of age and a high school graduate;

  • A Texas resident;

  • Community college students pursuing initial undergraduate degrees and who have not attended previous CAS events;

  • Able to commit to a six-month relationship with NASA’s Johnson Space Center, including a three-day experience during the spring semester at JSC in Houston;

  • Able to complete requirements established by DCCCD;

  • Earn an average of 70% on the online modules (required), which are submitted biweekly during NASA’s pre-selection process.

Interested applicants 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. Applicants must complete the online modules and earn a passing grade of 70%to be selected for the actual trip to JSC Houston in the spring.

DCCCD’s partnership with NASA is designed to encourage students to consider or continue a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) career path.

“DCCCD’s participation in NASA CAS encourages our students to take a leadership role in their educational environment,” said Molina, who coordinates the NASA CAS program for the DCCCD system. “In the past, the NASA CAS program was open to community college students throughout Texas. Now, based on our district’s participation, we have an exclusive agreement with NASA CAS for our students that started several years ago.”

“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.”

DCCCD has participated in the NASA CAS program for 12 years (including spring 2014), sending more than 200 students to become aerospace scholars. For additional information, contact Molina by phone at (214) 378-1771 or by email at

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