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Taking Robotics from the Classroom to Mars

Summer 2011 | Archives

rover Two MCC students took their physics and robotics knowledge to space this spring in a competition designed to build and test a robotic space rover.

Jacky Chan and Noah Sutton, both of Omaha, were among 80 students from community colleges across the country selected to travel to a NASA center as NASA National Community College Aerospace Scholars. The National Community College Aerospace Scholars program encourages students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

rover Chan and Sutton were the only students from Nebraska selected as scholars. Participants were selected based on completion of web-based assignments during the school year.

Sutton visited NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., while Chan visited the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The students established teams and formed fictitious companies pursuing Mars exploration. Each team shaped a company infrastructure to develop and design a prototype rover.

rover "[The program] was an opportunity to gain some unique insight into space exploration and what obstacles are currently causing problems in space travel," Sutton said. His team won the Pasadena competition with a rover that completed all its objectives, including retrieving rock samples in difficult terrain.

Sutton graduated from MCC in May with an Associate in Science in Pre-Physics. He plans to attend the University of Nebraska at Omaha to pursue a bachelor's degree in physics and eventually pursue a research career. Chan is pursuing an associate degree in information technology at MCC to build upon his computer science skills.

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