Published Friday, September 1, 2017

Thirteen Palm Beach State College students will travel to a NASA center in the fall to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program, the school said.

“I wanted to do something with my mind and less with my hands,” said Vitas Diktanas Jr., a master plumber with his own company who returned to PBSC this year. “I’ve always loved space ever since I was a kid.”

The students are among 304 community college students around the United States selected for the NCAS program. Initially, the students spent five weeks this summer in an online course, learning about NASA’s missions and research.

Out of 21 PBSC students who took the online course, 16 were invited to attend an on site NASA workshop and 13 are able to go.

The students pay $30 in incidental fees and the NCAS program pays for their travel. food and lodging.

Seven NASA centers are participating, but most of the PBSC students will go to the Kennedy Space Center event Oct. 23-26.

The students will interact with NASA engineers as they learn more about careers in science and engineering.

The PBSC students attending the event are: Victoria Adams, Mario Aparicio, Oketa Basha, Alexander Cafaro, Robert Dechert, Vitas Diktanas Jr., Damir Fayzulaev, Itai Firan, Katayoun Jamei, Miguel Mattis, Theodore Pena, Lauren Ristaino and Alexander Shaw.

The NCAS program has had a big influence on Ristaino, who is pursing her A.A. degree with the goal of earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

“When I applied for it, I thought, ‘Oh, let me just try this out and see how it goes,” and it actually turned into this huge interest I never even knew I had,” she said.

Palm Beach Post

By Kevin D. Thompson -  Staff Writer