Lawrence County Resident is Tennessee’s Only Student Selected to Participate in 3-Day Event
PHOTO CAPTION: Recent Columbia State Community College graduate, Damien Gieske (left) is pictured with Columbia State student and girlfriend, Amber Eaton (right) after Columbia State's Forty-Third Annual Commencement Ceremony on Tuesday, May 11. The Lawrence County resident was one of just 76 students from community colleges in 28 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico selected to travel to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas to participate in a three-day event, to develop robotic explorers that will explore the surfaces of other planets. He was also the only student chosen from the state of Tennessee. Gieske will begin his first semester at the University of Huntsville during the fall 2010 semester. He plans to pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering.
“I was very excited and shocked,” said Damien Gieske, who graduated from Columbia State Community College on Tuesday, May 11, 2010. “They only select so many students. I can’t wait to go and see the space center—I think it will be a really cool experience.”
The Lawrence County resident was one of just 76 students from community colleges in 28 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico selected to travel to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas to participate in a three-day event, to develop robotic explorers that will explore the surfaces of other planets.
“I had quite a few students that went through the process of trying to get into the program and he was the only one to get picked,” said Michael Darrell, assistant professor of mathematics at Columbia State. “I had him as a student for two years in a row, and I’m proud to see him get this opportunity upon graduation.”
To determine who would be selected, students had to complete four web-based assignments. To qualify for the experience, students had to maintain a 95 average. “The assignments were challenging,” said Gieske. “They had to do with anything from planning a mission to Mars and what we would do when we got there, to coming up with a budget and designing our own rover. I couldn’t have done it without the math I learned in Professor Darrell’s classes or the Physics I learned in Professor (Jim) Watson’s classes at Columbia State.”
Gieske and other participants will work together in teams to complete tasks such as developing a prototype rover, designing a line drawing of their rover and forming a company infrastructure – including budget, communications and presentations. The on-site
experience will include a tour of the Johnson Space Center facilities and briefings from
NASA employees, including astronauts.
“I hope to learn a lot of new things—hopefully my experience there will open some doors for me in the future,” said Gieske. “I think our teams will do a good job.”
Gieske – who received his Columbia State diploma today – will transfer to the University of Huntsville where he plans to pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering.
The event, set to take place May 20 through May 22, is the conclusion of the National Community College Aerospace Scholars pilot program which is designed to encourage community and junior college students to enter careers in science and engineering, and join the nation's high technology workforce.