Alumni Spotlight – Deborah Essumang
In a few years, NASA plans to return astronauts to the Moon and eventually onto Mars. When those long missions resume, Essex County College alumna Deborah Essumang (Class of 2017) will be able to look to the skies and smile.
That’s because the current University of Maryland Chemical and Bio-Molecular Engineering major also has a position as a student trainee engineer at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She is on the team of early career engineers doing work on the Orbital Syngas Commodity Augmentation Reactor project.
“I really enjoy the interesting work at NASA and this fantastic opportunity,” said Deborah. In addition to the NASA project, she is taking online courses toward her Bachelor’s degree.
The NASA project, affectionately dubbed OSCAR, turns trash into reusable materials on long duration, deep space missions. Deborah described OSCAR as “table size.”
According to NASA, this process would reduce overall mission mass, increase usable spacecraft and habitat volume, and improve mission reliability and robustness.
Deborah described her part of the work on OSCAR as testing.
“I congratulate Deborah Essumang on having the opportunity to work at NASA. She was an outstanding student at ECC and continues to excel both in her academics at the University of Maryland and research work NASA. She is an excellent example of the high caliber of students who start their higher education careers at Essex,” said ECC Acting/Interim President Dr. Augustine Boakye.
Interestingly, Deborah said her most challenging NASA project was her first, shortly after graduating from ECC. “I had a chemistry background but not the experience in engineering,” she recalled of her 10-week NASA Summer Internship Program at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.
Deborah proved to be a quick study and handled her work well t continue being part of NASA as she continues toward her Bachelor’s degree.
Her ongoing success comes as no surprise to ECC Chemistry Professor Dr. Nidhal Marashi. “Deborah was one of my students for General Chemistry & Organic Chemistry Courses. She was a very talented ambitious and motivated your lady. Deborah was always ready to handle any project or task in a full responsibility, positive, and respectful attitude with all her peers and faculty,” Dr. Marashi said.
While at ECC, Deborah was active in the Chemistry Club and was one of the pioneer Chemistry Peer Tutors.
“My time spent at Essex County College provided me the opportunity to open doors so I can get where I want to go. I will always be grateful to ECC,” Deborah said.
After graduating from Maryland, Deborah would like to continue her educationn toward advanced degrees. She also wants to continue work at NASA as she continues to be part of a team that reaches for the stars.