Paradise Valley Community College engineering student Yarden Levy recently participated in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program, a virtual program in which students are exposed to various areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and learn about NASA’s missions and career opportunities. Yarden was originally chosen for phase one of the program out of hundreds of applicants.
NCAS’ phase one entailed a five-week online course in which students had to choose a project and write a 10-page paper discussing the mission, parts, scientific objectives, and what it would accomplish. Levy chose to design a lunar rover to explore the moon. After receiving a perfect score on his project, Levy was one of 187 students who advanced to the second phase.
Phase two of the program, students were assigned teams to create a successful mission plan to explore Mars or the Moon. Each team specifically arranges a company infrastructure, assigns responsibilities, manages a budget, and develops communications and outreach strategies. Students also attend briefings given by NASA subject matter experts, receive information on how to apply for NASA internships, and virtually tour NASA’s unique facilities during the event.
“It was a lot of hard work, but so rewarding,” Levy said. “My teammates and I met virtually nearly every night for two weeks going over different aspects of the project. As the team’s systems engineer, Levy was tasked with designing a rocket that would reach the moon. The team planned and rehearsed endlessly for their presentation and it paid off. Awards are presented in two different categories to the top four teams; Levy’s team won in both categories.
“At first I wasn’t going to apply because I didn’t think I’d get chosen,” he said. “You learn more from your failures than your successes. It’s important to embrace your failures and never give up on yourself. To make it to the second phase and do so well is very gratifying. I hope others take a chance on themselves and look into this program. It was amazing.”
Levy, who received a $550 stipend for completion of the NCAS program, earned his associate degree in science at PVCC and is finalizing some classes in 2021. He plans on transferring to Arizona State University to continue his studies in mechanical engineering and land an internship in a related field.
“I want to work on something that actually makes the world a better place,” Levy said.”If I can make one person’s life better, it will all be worth it.”
The Minority University Research and Education Program (MUREP) funds NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars. MUREP commits to engaging underrepresented and underserved students in STEM with authentic learning experiences to sustain a diverse workforce.
With this activity, NASA continues the tradition of engaging the nation in its mission of human exploration and sustainable expansion across the solar system and bringing new knowledge and opportunities back to Earth.