Students in NASA Program Celebrate Their Success

Dr. Eunice Kamunge, Chair of the Biology, Chemistry and Physics Division, addresses the NASA students

Some of the NASA students with Dr. Augustine Boakye (center), Dr. Nidhal Marashi (left), Dr. Eunice Kamunge (third from right) and Dr. Nadia Lvov (fourth from right)

The 12 Essex County College students who took part in the week-long NASA Community College Aerospace Scholarship (NCAS) virtual program this fall were recently treated to a special campus celebration. The Essex County College Chemical Society co-sponsored the celebration with the College.

“You did it! I see the energy you have and the role our faculty and administration can play for you to move forward. The NASA program is an excellent opportunity to help you become future STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) professionals,” ECC’s President, Dr. Augustine A. Boakye, told the students.    

ECC was one of only seven community colleges participating in this year’s NASA program in which teams of students developed a prototype rover capable of lunar and planetary exploration. The College has had a three-year relationship with the NCAS, including several on-campus programs pre-pandemic. In all cases, ECC students worked with their counterparts from around the nation on the projects.

“With this all virtual program, the students didn’t know what to expect. But in the end, they accomplished something with NASA and they did it in just one week. I’m really humbled by their accomplishments,” said ECC Chemistry Professor Dr. Nidhal Marashi. Dr. Marashi and Physics Professor Dr. Nadia Lvov serve as the College’s NASA program coordinators.

At the celebration, several students recalled their NASA experiences.

“At first, I wasn’t sure I could go through with it. But the program showed me what I could expect in my career path and, in the end, our team developed a very strong bond,” said Mechanical Engineering major Chinanue Edward Igbokwe. He added the mentors, ECC adjuncts Dr. Patrick Dzisah and Professor Faraz Siddique, provided excellent support.

Going in, Rashown Rumble admitting he didn’t have a “NASA type background. But I saw it as a great opportunity and I had a lot of fun. I would recommend the NASA program to any student interested in this field,” he said.

“Being a part of the NASA program was not only an honor, but also a great asset for any future undertakings,” said Manuel Simo.

Dr. Lvov said for the students to get to the weeklong simulation, they had to compete a five-week virtual Summer program. “All the credit for what they accomplished goes to our students. It was a very intense week,” she said.