What makes a 39-year-old man go off to NASA space camp? Why not? Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to create a mission to Mars? Although this isn’t your average childhood fantasy, and it’s not kiddy space camp either. Moberly Area Community College student Timothy Terrell was recently accepted into the NASA Aerospace Scholars program. This program is available to community colleges throughout the United States. Applicants are given four theory-based projects throughout a semester. Students who successfully complete this section travel to either Houston, TX to the Johnson Space Center or to Pasadena, CA to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, depending upon their engineering interest. There were 330 applications from across the nation with a total of 230 applications accepted. Terrell is the first Missouri student to be accepted into the program.
According to NASA the “National Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) is an interactive online learning opportunity highlighted by a three-day experience at NASA. Selected students are encouraged to study mathematics, science, engineering and computer science by interacting with engineers at Johnson Space Center. Students from across the nation are chosen to participate through a competitive process. Selected students are U.S. citizens currently pursuing their initial undergraduate degree at a community college who have an interest and aptitude for mathematics, science, engineering or computer science.”
Terrell is currently working on the four theory-based projects, which combine to create a complete Mars mission. The program puts the student in a scenario where they are asked to present a Mars mission to Congress for approval, create a budget for the mission, build the necessary equipment, execute the mission and then testify to Congress about its success or failure. His first project was to submit goals for the mission. Terrell would like to design a renewable energy land base on Mars capturing solar energy from Mars’ two-day sun cycle using a complex system involving algae and solar panels. This energy would be used to increase surface exploration on Mars. His third goal for the mission is to put a substation on Mars to dock with the international space station, which would increase research capabilities. Part two of the project is to create a budget for the mission. NCAS students have access to all public records in the NASA online library and have direct access to budgets for previous missions, mission plans and orders. Part three involves coordinating the launch date and building all equipment for the mission. Part four will be his mission completion report.
Terrell will travel to Johnson Space Center to “run” his mission using an actual NASA simulator. It will be three twelve hour days of intense work with NASA engineers that Terrell will likely never forget.
Terrell is just one of many adult MACC students returning to college to make a better life for themselves. They all have unique stories about their journey back to college and the twists and turns that lead them to MACC.
“MACC is local. And it has the best STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) program for the cost in the region. Plus, everything is completely seamless when you transfer to a four-year college or university. And most importantly, the MU professors have respect for students coming out of the MACC STEM program. They say we are well-prepared and ready to hit the ground running in their programs,” explained Terrell.
In fact, Terrell first began his college search at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He went to check out the electrical engineering program, and the professor suggested it would be an affordable option for him to start at MACC for his general studies. So he did.
Terrell works as the Master Electrician for America’s Full Line Electrical Service, LLC. He is pursuing three Associate Degrees at MACC, Associate of Arts General Liberal Degree, Associate of Science (in engineering) Degree, and Associate of Applied Science Business Marketing/Management. Terrell will transfer to MU in the fall of 2013 to earn a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering.
Terrell was a long time resident of Chillcothe, MO and graduated from high school in Marceline, MO. He served in the United States Army for Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm as a Combat Scuba Diver for the 10th Special Forces Group. Terrell has been a resident of Columbia, MO since 2000 and a successful electrical contractor since 2005. He has volunteered as a youth football coach for the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department and is currently Vice President of the Columbia Area Archers and a member of the American Legion Post 202 and Twilight Masonic Lodge.