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News Release

John Tyler Community College Students Selected to Participate in NASA Program

Primary Media Contact:
Holly Walker
Public Relations Manager

Secondary Media Contact:
Heather Busch
Creative Services Manager

Released on November 09, 2010

News Release Highlights

  • Two John Tyler students take part in the National Community College Aerospace Scholars program
  • Only 89 students nationwide were selected for the program
  • Participants learn about careers in science and engineering while working on a fictional Mars exploration project

CHESTER and MIDLOTHIAN, Va. – Two John Tyler Community College students were among only 89 community college students nationwide selected to travel to NASA facilities in Alabama and Texas to participate in the National Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program. Jai Welch and Tyriek Bayne competed for entry into the program by participating in four web-based assignments that included essays and drawings of proposed Mars rovers. The goal of NCAS is to teach students about careers in science and engineering and to encourage them to pursue careers in high-tech industries. To do this, students selected for the program will spend three days at a NASA facility. While there, they will take tours, will attend briefings and will meet with NASA employees. The students also will get real-world, hands-on experience when they are divided into teams to form fictional companies. Working with NASA engineers and other employees, these teams put together proposals for a Mars exploration mission. They must work within budgets, put together a presentation to sell their ideas, and build a model Mars rover that can pass a series of tests.

Bayne, who is wrapping up a degree in general studies and who plans to start John Tyler Community College’s engineering program in the spring, was tapped to join the group sent to Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas in late October. He says he jumped at the chance to compete for the NCAS program and was thrilled when he learned that he had gotten into it. Now back at home, he excitedly talks about his experience. “It was amazing. It was fast-paced. We were busy the whole time,” says Bayne. “Going to the Johnson Space Center opened my eyes and gave me so many new insights.” When asked how his team performed, Bayne smiled and simply stated, “We won.” What did the team win? Bragging rights mostly, says Bayne. The team also had a chance to meet Gene Krantz, who in 1970 was the NASA flight director who led the team that brought the Apollo 13 astronauts home safely.

Welch was selected to be part of the group that is travelling to Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama in early November. Welch, who is in the engineering program at John Tyler, says he has always liked science – especially chemistry. It was one of his chemistry professors at John Tyler that encouraged him to apply for the NCAS program. He sees the trip to Alabama as a big opportunity. When asked what he hopes he will get to do, Welch, a self-described thrill-seeker, laughs and jokes, “I would love to be put in a vertical wind tunnel, but I know they won’t be doing that during this trip!” Even without the wind tunnel, Welch says he is looking forward to the trip. He says he is anxious to see what an engineer actually does out in the field, and he’s looking forward to meeting people from other parts of the country.

John Tyler Community College is a two-year, public institution of higher education and is the fifth largest of the 23 community colleges in Virginia. With campuses in Chester and Midlothian and off-campus classrooms throughout the area, John Tyler offers quality and economical opportunities for students who want to earn a degree or certificate, transfer to a four-year college or university, train for the workforce, or switch careers. The College, which served more than 13,690 students during the 2009 – 10 academic year, offers 17 associate degrees, seven certificates and 35 career studies certificates. The institution also serves 20,000 non-credit students and more than 1,000 companies and government agencies annually through the Community College Workforce Alliance. The College also is committed to sustainability. In July 2010, it received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification for its Midlothian Campus Science Building, becoming the first in the Virginia Community College System to receive such recognition. John Tyler Community College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

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Holly Walker, Public Relations Manager


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