Student participates in NASA Virtual Experience

The NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program selected Yakima Valley College student Carlos Trejo of Yakima to attend the NCAS Virtual Experience, February 2-8, 2022.

Trejo’s successful completion of a five-week online NCAS course earned him a spot to participate in the NCAS Virtual Experience. Trejo is one out of hundreds of community college students from across the country to participate in the virtual experience.

Selected community college students learn more about NASA’s missions and careers in science and engineering throughout the virtual experience. Students form teams and design a mission to explore the Moon or Mars. Each student team joins a design team, fulfills a team role, manages a budget and develops communication and outreach strategies. Students also attend events hosted by NASA subject matter experts, receive information on how to apply for NASA internships and virtually tour NASA’s unique facilities during the event.

“The first phase of the program focused on the history and objectives of NASA while simultaneously tying in the experiences of employees and their journeys to get to the position they are in today,” Trejo said. “This was a captivating experience that established the notion that the road to success is not a straight path.”

Trejo noted the second phase of the program, held online due to COVID, was more demanding, as each team had to create a plan in which they arranged plans for infrastructure, assigned responsibilities, managed a budget, and developed communications and outreach strategies in order to achieve a goal of space exploration.

“Having everything online definitely posed a challenge because not only did we have to account for the different time zones of each student, but also had to work around everyone’s busy schedule as we were all still full-time students,” he said. “In the end, all of our hard work paid off as we were able to successfully launch the simulation of our own space exploration mission. Even though this was an extremely stressful experience, I believe that is what made it that much more rewarding in the end.”

The Minority University Research and Education Program, or MUREP, funds NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars. MUREP commits to engaging underrepresented and underserved students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) with authentic learning experiences to sustain a diverse workforce.

With this activity, NASA continues the tradition of engaging the nation in its mission of human exploration and sustainable expansion across the solar system and bringing new knowledge and opportunities back to Earth.

“NCAS inspires community college students to advance in STEM fields, and it also opens doors for future careers at NASA. NCAS alumni can often move on to NASA internships and possibly ultimately enter the NASA workforce. It is rewarding to see the progression of a student from NCAS participant to NASA colleague,” says Torry Johnson, MUREP Manager. Learn more about the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars.

“I would without a doubt in my mind recommend this program to any student remotely interested in STEM or any related field,” Trejo said. “Providing students with an experience similar to what one might face in the workforce, the knowledge gained through NCAS is unmatched. Through this program, I was able to network, improve on skills, learn about opportunities within the agency and so much more. I was able to connect with like-minded individuals who shared the same passion for space exploration and form meaningful connections. Overall, I’m grateful to have been a part of the NCAS program, and I’m exciting to continue my involvement with NASA.”

Press Release Contacts:
Dustin Wunderlich / 509.574.6870 /
Stefanie Menard / 509.574.4646 /