Ngo Mai Thy, a Vietnamese American student majoring in maths and engineering at Portland Community College, has won a place in NASA's program.
|Ngo Mai Thi wins a place in NASA's program|
Joining the National Community College Aerospace Scholars Program, she will study and design robotic rovers for space missions.
Thy was one of 80 students from community colleges in 28 states and Puerto Rico who took part in two NASA workshops in Pasadena and the Johnson Space Centre in Houston earlier this year.
The programme is designed to encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The highlight of the program was sharing the video conference room with NASA engineers and scientists, going over the results they obtained from the rover, Opportunity, which is currently exploring Mars, Thy said.
"We also got to see how they plan out their mission and how they give the rover commands on what to do for the next few days," she added.
"Although most of us did not fully understand the technical terminology and the space language, it was an eye-opening experience getting to see how the job was done."
Thy, who was selected after she completed a web-based assignment and an essay, said the workshop, in which she had a chance to work on a fictitious rover project, was a great opportunity.
"We were also given opportunity to interact with NASA engineers online through a chat session to help us with the online lessons," Thy said. "When we first got there we were divided into four different teams to work on a fictitious rover project. A NASA engineer, who gave us advice, accompanied each team. This made the project more realistic.
"The rover from my team was designed to go over various terrain and obstacles on Mars to obtain Martian rocks and soil to test for any sign of life on the red planet," she said.
"We worked from early in the morning until late at night. I had very little idea about Mars and rovers. Now, I know more about Mars than any other planets, except for Earth."
NASA's goal is to continue investing in educational programs that attract and retain students in disciplines crucial to its future missions.
"This innovative experience allows students to take what they've learned in the classroom and apply it to technical questions in the real world, simulating what NASA engineers and scientists do every day," Leland Melvin, NASA associate administrator for education, said on Portland Community College website.
"It will help them develop the skills they need to be the problem solving explorers of tomorrow."
Thy said she was planning to transfer to Portland State University to get a bachelor's degree in math.