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Out-of-this-world experience for STEM students

December 5, 2016

An aerospace engineer from the NASA Ames Research Center, invited by De Anza College’s STEM Success Program, hosted a question and answer session that gave inspiring, real world advice to students.
The event, held on Nov. 17, featured the planetarium show, “Passport to the Universe,” narrated by Tom Hanks. The virtual tour transported the audience to the outer edges of the universe and led into aerospace engineer Robert Carlino’s discussion.
Carlino is an engineer working on the project TESS, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, which studies nearby stars close to our solar system for exoplanets that can be studied. Some of the planets in the habitable zone are of particular interest.
The question and answer session began with questions asked by Yvette Campbell, the Director of STEM Success Program, about Carlino’s career and how he got into aerospace engineering.
“When I was very young I started questioning everything — the more I was seeing, the more I was asking myself and learning,” Carlino said. “Space and astronomy in general got me so interested and inspired.” Campbell said she reached out to NASA for a speaker that would be
able to relate well to
college students. “I want to engage students to different disciplines in STEM,” Campbell said. “I wanted them to visually see STEM in action and then listen to a STEM professional.” She said that based on the attendance and
the quality of the questions asked by students, there needs to be more STEM events like this one in the future.
Attendee Mikayla Ehresmann-Singh, 18, an aerospace and physics major, shared this sentiment, and said that it was really nice to have something STEM-related on campus to expose community college students to a career in the real world.
She said the visit was a great experience, and the planetarium show was eye-opening as it showed just how huge the universe is.
“There should definitely be more things like this at De Anza,” said Singh. “Because it may spark some interest in those that don’t know what their career path is, or it may just be extremely helpful to those that already know that their career path is headed in the STEM direction.”

Aerospace engineer Robert Carlino responds to students during a question and answer session in the De Anza Fujitsu Planetarium on Thursday, Nov. 17.

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