NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars

Balance, Hard Work, Persistence and Passion

Joshua Baca at workMy name is Joshua E. Baca and I attend Cerro Coso Community College in Ridgecrest, California. Ridgecrest is my hometown, and I will apply to transfer to a four-year university this term.

As an undergraduate student pursuing what has been deemed one of the most difficult engineering majors (chemical engineering), every day is a challenge. The material you must learn is not only in bulk, but diversified, detailed, and time-consuming. During the school year, the majority of my days are spent studying and completing homework assignments. I’m happy to do this because I enjoy what I do, although this strategy has come with some unforeseen challenges. One of the biggest lessons I learned in my educational career this far was how to balance social relationships and diligence towards studies. A professor said something once in class that stuck with me.

“You’re not going to school to gain only an education, but to gain employment after graduation.”

Decent networking skills are essential to gaining employment, especially in engineering fields, since the work environment is team-oriented. A balance needs to be established between the right and left hemispheres of the mind. What I personally did to assist in my balancing of my hectic schedule was to join organizations in school as well as play in musical groups to merge creativity with my logic. I think this will make me a better engineer in the long run and my advice for other students struggling with balancing competing priorities.

Joshua BacaI was a late bloomer in my interest in space. My interest began in a chemistry course as a result of studying catalysis for an honors project. I was learning about how we can use catalysts to isomerize fuels to maximize the amount of energy density they contain, which leads to longer flight time and performance of rockets. This led me to resources on propulsion, and this is where my passion and interest for space propulsion systems began. After hearing about the NCAS program, I knew it would only further my passion and enlighten me on the possibilities at NASA. I worked hard to get into and attend the program, and it certainly paid off.

I learned about the NCAS program from my college when the opportunity was posted on our main school webpage. The greatest lesson I learned from the NCAS program was that diligence in my educational journey would be worthwhile. Learning about the incredible advancements and achievements NASA has accomplished to discover more about the “unknown” is incredibly inspiring. Even after time has passed since my initial NASA experience, knowing people with the academic degree I am pursuing has helped me achieve great things and helped me aspire to even greater ones. This also motivates me every day, it keeps me moving forward. Another lesson I’ve learned along the way: what is most important in any student endeavor is to have both patience and passion. I waited four years to receive my current internship and I certainly learned how to persevere. I called, emailed, and worked hard academically, which I believe had a positive impact on getting hired.

Currently, I am a, intern at the local Naval Base (Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division China Lake). I had an incredible summer working in biofuels research, and was presented with the opportunity to continue another tour in our base’s propulsion group this winter. Having this NCAS background to give me an introductory experience into dynamic, team-oriented work was certainly the door-opener to this internship. I expect my NCAS experience to continue to open doors in my future endeavors!