Ivy Tech Northwest student selected to visit NASA this May

EAST CHICAGO, IN – Peter Katsepas, an industrial maintenance student in the School of Technology at Ivy Tech Community College Northwest’s East Chicago De La Garza campus, has been selected to travel to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston May 20-22, 2010, to participate in a three-day on-site event.

Katsepas has been selected as one of 60 community and junior college students from across the nation to be part of the pilot National Community College Aerospace Scholars program. Students completed four Web-based assignments during the school year, maintaining a 96 average to qualify for the experience. They will apply what they have learned during the year to work with NASA engineers.

Katsepas will graduate May 8 from Ivy Tech Northwest with a degree in industrial technology and then transfer his credits to Indiana State University to complete a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He entered Ivy Tech through the Steelworker of the Future program with Arcelor Mittal Steel after working for over 20 years in the restaurant business.

“I decided last year to change careers. It was getting to be too demanding,” he said. “I always had an interest in the technology field.”

The NASA program is a three-day on-site event at Johnson and offers students from across the nation the opportunity to interact with each other as they learn more about careers in science and engineering. While at Johnson, students form teams and establish fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Each company is responsible for developing a prototype rover, designing a line drawing of the rover, and forming the company infrastructure including budget, communications, and presentations.

The on-site experience at Johnson includes a tour of facilities and briefings by noted NASA employees—including astronauts. National Community College Aerospace Scholars is a pilot program based on Texas Aerospace Scholars, originally created by the state of Texas in partnership with NASA and the Texas educational community. Both programs are designed to encourage community and junior college students to enter careers in science and engineering and ultimately join the nation’s highly technical workforce.

With this program, NASA continues the agency’s investment in educational programs that attract and retain students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, disciplines critical to NASA’s future missions.

For additional information about the program, please contact Deborah Hutchings, National Community College Aerospace Scholars program manager at 281-483-8623 or deborah.hutchings-1@nasa.gov. Visit their website at: http://aerospacescholars.jsc.nasa.gov/NCAS/.

Ivy Tech Community College is the state’s largest public post-secondary institution and the nation’s largest singly-accredited statewide community college system with more than 150,000 students enrolled annually. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.

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