Tyler Hutcheson

Tyler Hutcheson

STILLWATER, Okla. — A Northern Oklahoma College student has been selected to visit NASA's Johnson Space Center later this month as part of a program meant to inspire future STEM professionals and, potentially, future NASA employees.

Tyler Hutcheson, a pre-engineering student at NOC-Stillwater, is one of 524 community college students across the nation who will take part in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) Onsite Visit to the space center in Houston, according to an NOC release.

Hutcheson completed a five-week online course in preparation for his upcoming four-day visit, from Feb. 24-28, wherein students will learn more about science and engineering careers from some of the best minds in those fields.

"With this activity, NASA continues the agency's tradition of engaging the nation in NASA's mission and leading an innovative and sustainable program of exploration to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities," according to NOC.

During their stays, students break off into teams, each establishing a fictional company looking to explore Mars. Teams must manage budgets, form company infrastructures, develop communications and outreach and develop and test prototype rovers.

"The event includes briefings by NASA subject matter experts, information on how to apply for NASA internships and a tour of NASA's unique facilities," according to NOC.

NCAS is funded by the Minority University Research and Education Program (MUREP), which is dedicated to encouraging and engaging underserved and underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and math.

"NCAS not only inspires community college students to advance in STEM fields but it also opens doors for future careers at NASA. NCAS alumni often move on to NASA internships and ultimately enter the NASA workforce. It is rewarding to see the progression of a student from NCAS participant to NASA colleague," Torry Johnson, MUREP manager, said.

For information, contact National Community College Aerospace Scholars at JSC-NCAS@mail.nasa.gov or (281) 244-0104.

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Willetts is education and city reporter for the Enid News & Eagle.
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