OCCC Space Program

In October, Oregon Coast Community College successfully applied for membership in the Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium.

Matthew Fisher

Matthew Fisher

The Oregon Space Grant Consortium, a part of the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, is a state-wide network of universities, colleges, museums, educators, researchers, students and science professionals promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) education through cooperative and interdisciplinary programs while recruiting and training NASA’s next diverse workforce.

“Being a member institution of the Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium provides our students with amazing opportunities that range from scholarships to really cool research projects like the Eclipse Ballooning Project,” said Matthew Fisher, OCCC’s Lead Science Faculty and the College’s Space Grant representative. “We will use this resource to help attract and train the next generation scientists and engineers from our community.”

Through this new program, OCCC students will participate in the Eclipse Ballooning Project, a nationwide effort to document the total solar eclipse from the edge of space (about 100,000 feet altitude). Teams of students across the country are participating in this event, thanks to support from the various state space grant consortia.

Each team will release a high-altitude balloon. These balloons will carry a primary payload consisting of cameras and the equipment needed to live-stream video of the eclipse for anyone to watch. OCCC’s website and social media channels will provide handy links to the stream.
Additionally, these high-altitude balloons will carry a secondary payload that can collect atmospheric data during this unique event.

Students here in Lincoln County will collaborate with students from Linn Benton Community College and the Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium. They will help operate the ground-based system that tracks the balloon and receives the live-stream video feed. Additionally, they may be part of the recovery team that collects the balloons once they pop and parachute back to the ground.

Now that OCCC students are part of the OSGC, they can apply for scholarships, research grants, participate in the yearly student research symposium, and apply for internships at NASA centers and private aerospace companies. Also, OCCC students can form teams to compete in regional and national tournaments for engineering projects like ROVs, robotics, and rockets.

“We envision that our OSGC membership will help us attract and retain STEM students in our community,” wrote OCCC President Birgitte Ryslinge in the College’s Space Grant Consortium application. “The nation is in need of STEM graduates, but unfortunately high percentages of students drop out of STEM programs, especially those in underrepresented minority groups. Providing students with extra resources, such as scholarships, internship opportunities, and extracurricular research projects, can help reverse this trend. We seek to utilize the resources and excitement of NASA to help educate, inspire, and motivate our students towards success.”

For more information about scholarships, grants and more made possible by OCCC’s membership in the Consortium, schedule an appointment with an academic advisor. Oregon Coast Community College is in its 30th year of serving Lincoln County. The College has facilities in Waldport, Newport and Lincoln City. For more information, call 541-867-8501 or email matthew.fisher@oregoncoastcc.org.

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