MCCC Student Albert Re Follows His Passion at NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Program


Titusville, N.J. – Over the course of 10 weeks this summer, Mercer County Community College (MCCC) student Albert Re dived into one of his foremost academic interests: space.

Re was one of three MCCC students to attend the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program, an interactive online learning opportunity that gives students a holistic view of working at NASA.

Re’s fascination with aerospace began at an early age. He didn’t have any immediate family working in the sciences, so Re remembers asking his teachers and using online resources to answer his questions about earth and beyond.

His interest in science and math deepened even as the courses he took grew more difficult.

When it came time to attend college, Re remembers his mother pushing him to enroll at MCCC.

“My mom geared me towards Mercer for the first two years of college,” Re says. “We were convinced that I’d get the same quality education at Mercer as anywhere else and at a lower cost.”

Re also notes that his family has a long-standing relationship with the college. His grandfather, Charles Prettyman, taught information systems, computer systems and networking technology courses at MCCC from 1969 until he retired in 2002.

The decision to attend Mercer paid off for more than just Re’s wallet. Professor James Maccariella urged Re to apply for the NCAS program to pursue his love of all things aerospace.

“Professors Maccariella and Kyle Anderson were directly involved in my success,” says Re. He added that Anderson helped him extend the length of his Calculus II course from five weeks to 10, so Re could make the most of the program.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic shifting the NCAS program to an entirely virtual offering, Re is quick to share his excitement. He learned about upcoming NASA missions like Artemis, which will land the next man and first woman on the moon in 2024, using NASA’s newest rocket, the Space Launch System.

Following a series of quizzes, Re embarked on a project to design a lunar rover using computer-aided design (CAD) software.

“The rover had to be designed from top to bottom with scientific instruments and scientific goals,” says Re. “Then we had to write a technical paper explaining in full detail every part of the rover like the chassis, mobility design, operating the rover, instrument package and robotic components.”

During the second part of the program, Re teamed up with other students to complete a mock mission to send people to Mars, for which his group took first prize.

“We had to earn money through challenges and by attending guest speakers from different NASA facilities,” Re explains.

“We also talked to NASA employees – from scientists and engineers to people that work with NASA’s social media page,” Re adds.

That experience adds up to a strong foundation for Re’s future goal of working for an aerospace institution.

“I want to study aerospace engineering at Rutgers,” Re says. “From there, I hope to intern, and then work for NASA, Lockheed Martin, Boeing or SpaceX, the latter founded and run by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.

“I think that SpaceX is awesome, and how far they’ve come with the simplicity of their rockets is really, really cool,” he raves. “older Nasa rockets had a complex layout of buttons, switches, and sensors, but SpaceX has narrowed the controls down to three interactive screens.”

Regardless of where he lands, Re stresses that NCAS was one giant leap toward accomplishing his goals.

“I got to make lifelong contacts with people from all over the country and NASA,” Re says. “Overall it was an amazing experience.”

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Albert Re was one of three MCCC students to attend the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Program this summer.