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College Students Participated in NASA Career Simulation

CRANFORD – From Sept. 27 through Oct. 1, a team of students from Union County College was invited to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program (NCAS). Union students were part of a new cohort of only 84 students nationwide chosen for this engineering design competition after a rigorous selection process. Other institutions who had students invited to participate in the second NASA Career Simulation included: Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Cypress College, Essex County College, Lone Star College, Norwalk College, and Southwestern College.

During the week, students assumed the role of NASA employees and engaged in authentic learning by building an Autonomous Pop-Up Flat Folding Explorer Robots (A-PUFFERs), which is a rover to explore the moon’s terrain. Before starting their “new jobs” scholars applied for positions on a team and discovered which role they would assume for the week. By working together in their new roles, the students built a device to navigate over the lunar surface and had to develop a plan to communicate their discoveries.

The 11 Union students who participated in the program were Mark Farag, Charles Ibitamuno, Bryan Quintero, and Angel Soto Veras, all of Elizabeth; Jenny Altamirano and Luana Rampelotti both of Hillside; Thomas Christo of Fanwood; George Stephens of Kenilworth; Ronald Canales of Plainfield; Christopher Solis of Springfield; and Diego Gomez of Union.

“We are so proud of our team of students who were chosen to participate in the NCAS program. The enthusiasm and excitement of the students has caused the entire STEM Division to have a new sense of commitment to our students,” stated Union County College Interim Dean of STEM William Dunscombe.

Union County College is a public comprehensive community college providing quality, affordable, accessible educational programs that serve the greater Union County region. It is the first of New Jersey’s 18 Associate Degree colleges, serving both career-minded and transfer-oriented students since 1933. The College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

In the top row from the left, Interim Dean of STEM William Dunscombe and Union students George Stephens, Thomas Christo, George Stephens, Luana Rampelotti, Diego Gomez, Christopher Solis, Mark Farag, and Ronald Canales, with the Associate Dean of STEM & Scotch Plains Campus Dr. Nicole Cippoletti.