SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – You might say Aminah Bergeron is over the moon about an opportunity this summer.
The Springfield Technical Community College student from Westfield was accepted to participate in the NASA Lucy Student Pipeline Accelerator and Competency Enabler (L’SPACE) Mission Concept Academy – Summer 2020 Program.
It’s the second big opportunity Bergeron has had with NASA. In early March, Bergeron attended the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) Onsite Experience at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. She learned about careers in science and engineering and worked with a team to design a prototype Mars rover, among other tasks.
Bergeron started the NASA L’SPACE Academy summer program on May 12. Described as an online virtual academy, the free 12-week program offers an interactive, project-based experience and workforce development training for students interested in working in the space industry.
L’SPACE consists of two Academies – the Mission Concept Academy, and the NASA Proposal Writing and Evaluation Experience Academy.
Bergeron chose the Mission Concept Academy. She is learning about NASA mission procedures and protocols from industry professionals. She meets virtually with fellow team members via video conferencing due to the health pandemic. They collaborate to complete mission-related team projects.
“This is an amazing opportunity,” Bergeron said. “It could help me get internships. My dream is to one day work for NASA on their space missions.
Bergeron added that she and others in the program were invited to one of the upcoming rocket launches in October. She said she was excited about the prospect of seeing a live launch.
Bergeron, 26, is preparing for her second year at STCC. She recently changed her major to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology. She likes the hands-on nature of the program. STCC in the fall will offer a combination of online classes and on-campus low-density labs following social distancing protocols. Mechanical Engineering Technology students train in a state-of-the-art machining lab and learn to use high-tech computer software and hardware.
Professor Beth McGinnis-Cavanaugh, chair of the Civil Engineering Technology program and advisor to the STCC chapter of the Society of Women Engineers, has been encouraging Bergeron to pursue her NASA dreams.
“I am impressed with Aminah’s focus and resolve in pursuing these opportunities,” McGinnis-Cavanaugh said. “These wonderful programs are available for STCC students. I encourage all of our students to ‘shoot for the moon.’ Too often, nontraditional and underrepresented students – especially women – are not encouraged or supported in science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) fields. They’re not seen – and don’t see themselves – as future STEM professionals. Students like Aminah challenge stereotypes and move well beyond expectations and limits. And – as she works to achieve her own goals –she makes real the possibilities for other women who question their own identity and potential as future engineers and scientists. I’m proud of her. She has a bright future in STEM.”
Interested in applying to STCC? Visit stcc.edu/apply or call Admissions at (413) 755-3333.