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Rocklin, Calif. – Alexander Engler of Sierra College in Rocklin has been selected to travel to NASA’s Johnson Space Center this spring to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars project (NCAS).

Engler has been selected as one of 216 community college students from across the U.S. to be part of NCAS. This great opportunity was awarded to Engler as the result of his hard work and a letter of recommendation from Sierra College Physics Professor, Dr. Aviva Shackell.

It is huge honor for Engler whose ultimate goal is to become an aerospace engineer and an astronaut. “Space is infinite; don’t shoot for the stars, go beyond,” said Engler when asked what advice he’d give other young aspiring astronauts. “I’m very grateful to Dr. Aviva Shackell for the letter of recommendation that made this possible,” Engler added.

The five-week scholars program culminates with a four-day on-site event at Johnson Space Center and offers students the opportunity to interact with NASA engineers and others as they learn more about careers in science and engineering. While at NASA, students form teams and establish fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Each team is responsible for developing and testing a prototype rover, forming a company infrastructure, managing a budget, and developing communications and outreach.

The on-site experience at NASA includes a tour of facilities and briefings by NASA subject matter experts.

NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars is a project funded in part by the Minority University Research and Education Program, or MUREP, which is committed to the recruitment of underrepresented and underserved students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to sustain a diverse workforce.

With this project, NASA continues the agency’s tradition of investing in the nation’s educational programs. It is directly tied to the agency’s major education goal of attracting and retaining students in STEM disciplines critical to NASA’s future missions, which include missions to Mars and beyond.

“NCAS not only inspires community college students to advance in STEM fields, but it also opens doors for future careers at NASA. NCAS has a legacy of alumni moving from NASA internships to and ultimately entering the NASA workforce. It is rewarding to see the progression of a student from NCAS participant to NASA colleague.” Tania B. Davis, Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Manager.