Through the Minority University Research and Education Project, NASA hosts a program called NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars or NCAS. This program is designed to encourage and inspire STEM students that are going through community college for whatever reason. This mission has brought together people of all different ages and nationalities for a common purpose and I got to be a part of this incredible experience this year.
After excelling in a 5-week online course, I was invited to go to Kennedy Space Center for a 4-day on-site experience. We were assigned teams and had to come together to create a counterfeit company that would pitch its rover for NASA’s projects for Mars. There were almost 50 of us that were broken into 4 groups, and every single group was different from the other which made the entire competition really fun. It is a lot more difficult than it seems but I was lucky enough to be in a team that somehow managed to completely skip over the awkward phase. This resulted in a great environment for us all to learn and grow from each other.
My team was pretty diverse. The youngest was 19 and eldest was 36 I believe, and the rest of us fell somewhere in between. I walked into this experience expecting the older ones to completely take over, and this didn’t happen at all. Our range of ages, in fact, helped us make our company, Greenergize, more well rounded. The diversity of our experiences was unreal. We all came from totally different walks of life and how we came together for a single purpose was truly a mindblowing phenomenon to be a part of. We had creativity and experience which made us a team to be reckoned with.
We also had people from all over the world and those that were older had seen so much more too. We all lived in the US but our ethnicities were as different as it gets which was amazing because it made conversations over meals so much easier. One member was from India, another from South Korea, Cuba, Israel, and more. I went in expecting to be surrounded by nerd stuff all the time, but our different cultures and races led to us proudly sharing our differences and laughing about our surprising similarities. Our diversity is what made our bond stronger in such a short period of time.
The other teams had people from even more places and together we made every bus ride a wild one. Although my team didn’t win, it felt like we had. We’ve all been invitied to come back for internships and even jobs later so NASA is going to continue to benefit from our diversity.
When you think of NASA, you might only think of white people which can be justified. But there are programs that are working to change that and have been doing a great job. The diversity at NASA and in the STEM fields is growing every single day, we already have way more women than ever before!
Don’t stand by as the diversity grows, you can be a part of it too! #NCAS2017