Seminole State students selected to participate in NASA Virtual Experience

Monday, August 29, 2022
Written by: Laura E. Richeson, APR

Photo Credit: NASA STEM

NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) selected Seminole State College of Florida students Grace Calderon Santiago and Joseph A. McManus to attend the NCAS Virtual Experience, held Aug. 3-9. The successful completion of a five-week online NCAS course earned them spots to participate in the NCAS Virtual Experience.

Grace Calderon Santiago
Grace Calderon Santiago

Calderon and McManus were selected from hundreds of community college students from across the country to participate in the virtual experience to learn more about NASA’s missions and careers in science and engineering. Students formed teams and designed a mission to explore the moon or Mars. Each student joined a design team, fulfilled a team role, managed a budget, and developed communication and outreach strategies. Students also attended events hosted by NASA subject matter experts, received information on how to apply for NASA internships and virtually toured NASA’s unique facilities. 

Joseph A. McManus
Joseph A. McManus

The Minority University Research and Education Program (MUREP) funds NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars. MUREP commits to engaging underrepresented and underserved students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with authentic learning experiences to sustain a diverse workforce. With this activity, NASA continues the tradition of engaging the nation in its mission of human exploration and sustainable expansion across the solar system and bringing new knowledge and opportunities back to Earth. 

“NCAS inspires community college students to advance in STEM fields, and it also opens doors for future careers at NASA. NCAS alumni can often move on to NASA internships and possibly ultimately enter the NASA workforce. It is rewarding to see the progression of a student from NCAS participant to NASA colleague,” said Torry Johnson, MUREP manager.

“I came into Seminole State not knowing where a path to gaining a degree would lead me, and I am proud to say that Seminole State College has now led me to my dreams,” said Calderon, who is pursuing an Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree with a focus in aerospace engineering. I am very thankful for my professors for inspiring me and driving my ambitions.

“This has been an excellent experience overall,” noted McManus, who is studying mechanical engineering as part of his A.A. degree. “Not only did my mission team win the top prize in the Artemis category, I gained valuable connections with NASA employees for one-on-one mentorship and resume review opportunities.”

About Seminole State College

Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965, serves nearly 30,000 students across six sites in Central Florida. A comprehensive college, Seminole State has awarded more than 100,000 credentials, from bachelor's degrees to high school diplomas, and offers more than 200 degrees, certificates and programs designed for success. For more about the college, visit
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