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Students Go Zero-G with NASA/FREE Financial Aid Workshops

What does a  high school senior, a saxophonist, an Auburn University graduate with an Aerospace Engineering degree, and a displaced worker from Piedmont have in common? These four men are all students at Gadsden State Community

College pursuing degrees in electronic engineering technology.  As a team, they recently submitted a robotics proposal to the Marshall Space Center in Huntsville with the hope of gaining an opportunity to see their project through to fruition.  Officials from NASA invited the team to the Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston, Texas to perform their tests.

The team of students led by Steven Martinez was chosen to participate in NASA’s 2013 Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program which is a partnership with the International Space Station National Lab.  They will assist in completing project work with their instructor/mentor, Audrey Webb, and Dr. Murray Darrach, from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, on an experiment to study the behavior of organic solvents in water under zero gravity.  The team has assignments to complete prior to flight week which is scheduled for April 5-13, 2013, and they will communicate with Darrach through phone, email and video conferencing.

“This ‘remote’ internship with NASA is a very special and unique opportunity for our students,” expressed Dr. Raymond W. Staats, president of Gadsden State.  “This is the first time a community college team has been offered this opportunity, and it will no doubt be a life-changing experience for our students.”  They will be working with NASA to automate the experiment to run without human interface, and it will then be launched to the international space station.

Martinez, team leader, is an Auburn University Aerospace Engineering graduate from Attalla.  He is joined by Jacob Lynch of Wellington, who plays saxophone in the Gadsden State Show Band, Josh Gaddy, Early College Enrollment Student from Piedmont High School, and Johnathan Williams of Piedmont, a student who chose to retrain for a new career after his previous place of employment closed.   They all chose to study electronic engineering technology at Gadsden State because of their desire to make a difference in the ever changing and advancing world of technology.  Tim Green, dean of technical education and workforce development, said, “Our students consistently place in national competitions among community colleges and have now excelled in competing with university students across the nation in being honored with this opportunity by NASA.  I never cease to be impressed with the success of our students and the caliber of our instructors.”

While the team is in Houston, they will perform their experiment to see how it will react in zero gravity aboard a DC 9 that is designed specifically for a parabolic flight.  Additional tests will be monitored and performed by professionals assisted by NASA crew members.  After completion of the April flight, these students will have an internship opportunity in Pasadena, California working in the Jet Propulsion Lab on robotics that will be used in future space exploration.



Gadsden State’s Financial Aid Department will host several free Financial Aid Workshops this month. Two sessions will be held at Gadsden State Cherokee in Centre, one on Tuesday, February 26 at 6:00 p.m. and another on Thursday, February 28 at 10:00 a.m.  Both sessions will be held in room 130.  Additional workshop sessions will be held on February 28 in the Ayers Campus Computer Science Auditorium in Anniston at 3:30 p.m. and in Browder Hall Auditorium on the Wallace Drive Campus in Gadsden at 6:00 p.m.

The workshops will serve to inform the students and parents about the various types of financial aid and scholarships available, the financial aid process, and assist individuals in filing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). “Even though Gadsden State is hosting the workshops, the sessions are open to all students interested in attending college, regardless of which college they plan to attend,” said Kelly D’Eath, financial aid director.  Any interested students and parents are invited to attend the workshops. Applications for student financial aid may be obtained at or the form may be accessed from the Gadsden State link at April 15 is the priority FAFSA filing date for Gadsden State.

Funding for the workshops is provided by the Opening Doors College Access Challenge Grant Model Program.  For more information contact D’Eath at or call 256-549-8266. Information may also be obtained by contacting Pamela Johnson at 256-835-5456 or Chad Steed at 256-927-1802.




3 Responses to “Students Go Zero-G with NASA/FREE Financial Aid Workshops”

  1. kbrown says:

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