ECC student visits NASA through scholars program

Elgin Community College student Nathan Depcik was one of 319 community college students nationwide to move closer to a career in science and engineering as part of the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program.

The four-day program was held in October at NASA's Langley Research Center outside of Washington, D.C.

Depcik, of Algonquin, interacted with NASA engineers and others at Langley as he and other scholars learned more about careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Scholars also toured the center and attended NASA briefings before forming teams and establishing fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Each team developed and tested a prototype rover, formed a company infrastructure, managed a budget, and developed communications and outreach.

"I was interested in the NCAS program as a way to explore potential careers in STEM while learning more about NASA," said Depcik.

"During the program, I used computer programming to code my team's Mars rover, and I'm now leaning toward pursuing a degree in computer engineering as a result of my experience. It was an incredible opportunity."

NCAS is an activity funded in part by the Minority University Research and Education Program, which is committed to engaging underrepresented and underserved students in STEM in authentic learning experiences to sustain a diverse workforce.

"NCAS not only inspires community college students to advance in STEM fields, but it also opens doors for future careers at NASA," said Joeletta Patrick, MUREP manager. "NCAS has a legacy of alumni moving from NASA internships to ultimately entering the NASA workforce."

For more information about the program, visit

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