A group of Central Texas College students recently joined more than 300 others from community and junior colleges across Texas to participate in NASA’s Community College Aerospace Scholars program.

Seven CTC students and two faculty members traveled to Johnson Space Center in Houston in late March to participate in the program, which was created to help get community and junior college students interested in careers in the science and engineering industry.

“It’s a program specifically designed for these students,” said Syed Rabbani, a CTC physics professor and one of the two faculty members who participated in the program. “These students get an up-close look at NASA, and a chance to work with others in a collaborative way.”

In addition to attending a number of presentations, students at the two-day event were broken into teams and tasked with establishing fictional “companies” responsible for organizing a mission to Mars. The teams had to work together to develop a prototype robotic rover, as well as planning a budget, a communications strategy and developing presentations for their project.

Each group presented its Rover and missions before a panel of judges.

Aside from learning the ins-and-outs of pitching and engineering for future space exploration missions, CTC student Anthony Nastasi said the program also encouraged participants to learn about teamwork and collaboration.

“You are working with students from all over Texas, and you really don’t know them at first, so you have to work cooperatively,” Nastasi said. “I think a bigger part of (the program) is learning about communication and working together.”

Other CTC students who attended the program this year included Annalisa Anderson, Amanda Broadus, Dylan Archer, Jennifer Cadran, Kris Ellis and Denita Shoptaw. This was the fourth year the college participated in the program, Rabbani said.

Contact Chris McGuinness at chrism@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

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