NEWARK, NJ - Essex County College will be one seven two-year schools in the nation to participate in a new program that could send students to space camp at a NASA center.
To qualify for the National Community College Aerospace Scholars program, students majoring in STEM fields will have to take a five-week online workshop that includes live video chats with NASA experts. Afterward, students will get the opportunity to apply for a four-day trip at a NASA center.
Those who go to the center will get an inside look at missions and network with scientists and engineers. Students will also develop a presentation to showcase their work to a panel of judges.
An Essex County College chemistry professor and the chair of the college’s Division of Biology, Chemistry and Physics spent a week at NASA’s AMES Research Center in San Jose to learn more about the program and implement in New Jersey.
“I am glad that our students will have the opportunity to participate in these NASA activities,” said Dr. Eunice Kamunge, the division’s chair. “It is truly an exposure that will open up new horizons during their pursuit of education here at ECC. This is another example of how we are committed to our students’ success.”
Chemistry Professor Dr. Nidhal Marashi and Physics Professor Nadia Lvov are also teaching an online NASA course to a group of students from around the country to gain some hands-experience before the program comes to Essex County College.
“This is really an exciting time for our College and especially our students,” said Dr. Marashi. “They will have the opportunity to work with some of the top scientists at NASA, better preparing them for when they transfer to a four-year college and then when they go on to their careers.”
About 30 Essex County College students are expected to participate in the program, which will begin in the fall semester for 2019. The program is free and will be a separate class similar to how students in the college's honors program work on capstone projects at the end of each semester.
The program is funded through a grant that was received when the college became a partner on the New Jersey Space Grant Consortium, which is based at Rutgers University. The four-year grant provides for peer tutors and independent research opportunities.