NMSU Carlsbad sophmore, Joshua Benavidez was selected to travel to NASA’s Johnson Space Center to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars onsite experience. This February, he will be one of the 171 community college students from across the U.S. to be part of the NCAS onsite experience. Benavidez interest in science started at a young age. “If you left me alone with electronics, they were at risk of being taken part,” Benavidez said. ” I was always obsessed with anything that could fly.” Benavidez added. Benavidez originally transferred from Central New Mexico Community College and is currently majoring in Engineering and Science with an interest in physics at NMSU Carlsbad. He is set to graduate in Spring or Summer of 2018 and he plans to finish his education at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. Benavidez said” If I want to get a PhD in physics, I need to have internships down and get published before I get there. So this opens up opportunities for that.” Benavidez looks forward to a future career in physics and how to apply it to the modern world. “Physics is a really huge field and thats partially why I did this program, to try and narrow down what I like. I would like to be able to extend human life in space because microgravity situations for humans are really bad.” said Benavidez. Benavidez will start the program with a five-week online activity and a four-day onsite event at a NASA Center and have the opportunity to interact with NASA engineers and others as they learn more about careers in science and engineering. “We will also be doing programing, and I’m actually volunteered to do 3D modeling which is basically prototyping so I get to learn extra skills.” said Benavidez. While at NASA, students form teams and establish fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Each team is responsible for developing and testing a prototype rover, forming a company infrastructure, managing a budget, and developing communications and outreach. “The professors themselves at NMSU Carlsbad have helped me prepare for the internship, I ask a lot of questions and am very curious about a lot of things. I have been fortunate enough to have professors that can point me in the right direction. ” said Benavidez. Professor of Chemistry, Robyn Hayes said ” I had Joshua in my General Chemistry I class last semester. It was obvious to me from the first day of class that he has a great curiosity to understand how the world works. He asks great questions and thinks outside of the box. I discovered that he was interested in physics so I introduced him to my husband, Tim Hayes, who is a physicist and chemist. I know they have had great conversations about physics and the preparation needed to be a physicist. Joshua is currently in my General Chemistry II class. I am very proud of his selection to the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program. I hope that his participation in this program can inspire other students to apply for such opportunities.” NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars is activity funded in part by the Minority University Research and Education Program, or MUREP, which is committed to engaging underrepresented and underserved students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in authentic learning experiences to sustain a diverse workforce. “NCAS not only inspires community college students to advance in STEM fields, but it also opens doors for future careers at NASA. NCAS has a legacy of alumni moving from NASA internships to and ulitmately entering the NASA workforce. It is rewarding to see the progression of student from NCAS participant to NASA colleague,” said Joeletta Patrick, Minority University Research and Education CMUREP) Project Manager. For more information about the program visit www.nasa.gov/educatio/murep.
Benavidez said ” The advice I would give to other students interested in internships is to have the courage to jump to apply. The program is open to anyone in the STEM field, it is not just physics or engineering, if you are in chemistry or anything else. The idea of the program is to simulate your average work load at NASA.”