Brothers Michael and Jackson Wozniak of Carpentersville have a lot of things in common. They both attend Elgin Community College, they both serve as officers in Phi Theta Kappa, and they were both selected to take part in NASA educational programs as part of the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars, or NCAS, experience.
Michael Wozniak was one of 499 community college students from across the U.S. to be part of NCAS Onsite Experience at Virginia’s Langley Research Center from October 7-11. Jackson Wozniak is one of 496 community college students from across the U.S. selected to attend the Meridian Community College NASA on Campus event October 21-24 in Mississippi.
“I pursued the program because of my passion for flight, both in and out of the atmosphere,” said Michael, “and I am extremely grateful that NASA provides this opportunity to community college students.” He added, “Getting accepted into NCAS inspired me to keep going toward my dreams.”
While at NASA and Meridian Community College, each brother focused on Mars exploration, working in teams with other students to develop and test a prototype rover. The program also included briefings by NASA subject matter experts and information on how to apply for NASA internships.
“The experience emulates a real engineering project,” said Jackson. “We were on a limited budget, strict timeline, and had unexpected budget cuts or technical problems. My team enjoyed adapting to these challenges as they gave us insight into what real engineering projects could be like in our future.”
Both Wozniaks hope to one day work for NASA. Michael plans to transfer to a four-year university to finish his degree in aerospace engineering to reach his goal of improving NASA’s flight capabilities. Jackson intends to enroll at West Point and pursue a mechanical engineering degree with the dream of developing the technology to push human exploration deeper into space.
NCAS is funded in part by the Minority University Research and Education Program (MUREP), which is committed to engaging underrepresented and underserved students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) with 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. 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,” says Torry Johnson, MUREP Manager.