IVC student Asal Dastmalchi recently helped design and build two miniature Mars rovers as part of the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program (NCAS).
Over three days at the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., near Palmdale, Asal and other students in the program first built a rover that gathered various sized rocks on a simulated Mars surface and then built a rover that could retrieve parts from a broken rover.
The 19-year-old credits Professor Roy McCord for inspiring her love of astronomy. When her parents encouraged her to get a summer job, she started looking for something to do with her new passion, eventually finding and applying to the national NCAS program.
Once she was accepted, she attended a five-week online course researching Mars and NASA over the summer. Before she left for the workshop in October, Professor McCord introduced her to Professor Jack Appleman, advisor to the Applied Science and Engineering Club. She joined the club’s Robotics Activity Group in preparation for building miniature rovers.
Asal praises her family for their support and encouragement. They moved to the U.S. from Iran four years ago, mainly for the sake of her brother who has cerebral palsy.
“Students like Asal are exactly our target audience,” Armstrong Flight Research Center Chief Scientist Albion H. Bowers said via email. “We want to engage with young, bright minds and encourage STEM careers for them! And if we can attract them to come back to NASA as interns and eventually join NASA as engineers, success! NCAS is just the first step. We look forward to having more students from Irvine Valley College come and visit us in the High Desert!”
For more information about NCAS, visit https://nas.okstate.edu/ncas.