When astronauts first set foot on distant planets, Victor Teran may be among those enabling that milestone. SMC introduced Victor to the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program, in which students develop potential solutions to the challenges of space travel.
Victor applied his skills as a materials engineering major to conceive a possible habitat and food supply for survival on Mars. He worked with students from across the country to design a rocket to reach Mars. “I felt like an actual NASA worker,” Victor says of the experience, which involved everything from chemistry, biology and engineering to budgeting.
Victor says that SMC has helped make his own dreams come true. Although he struggled with low confidence before coming to college, watching Bill Nye shows and National Geographic specials formed his early interest in science. His SMC laboratory courses catalyzed that interest into a lasting passion. “I was involved in mixing metals and chemicals to see and understand the various reactions, and that’s when I knew I loved chemistry and engineering,” he recalls.
He shared that understanding with his fellow SMC students as a STEM tutor and mentor. Victor wanted to repay the support of SMC’s faculty by aiding others. He is especially grateful to Chemistry Professor Muriel Walker-Waugh for her caring and infectious enthusiasm.
Victor will continue his studies by majoring in chemical engineering at California State University, Long Beach. After that, he hopes to build on his NCAS experience by working for NASA full time.