“I found out that CCM has a great engineering science program that’s transferable to a number of other colleges.”
When Harry R. Frasca, 51, of Budd Lake lost his computer programming job to downsizing in 2008, the last thing he saw in his future was an expense-paid trip to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. But the CCM engineering student recently competed with 270 applicants nationwide to be chosen as one of only 89 community college students to participate in the National Community College Aerospace Scholars program.
“NASA was very important to me for several reasons,” Frasca says. In addition to adding something prestigious to his resume, the trip also fulfilled a childhood dream. When he was growing up in the late Sixties, he can remember watching the men of the first Apollo mission land on the moon. From that point on, the space program captured his imagination.
“I may be too old to be an astronaut, but this opens doors to other wonderful possibilities,” he says, “including a glimpse at the best America has to offer the world, as well as NASA-associated co-ops and internships.” To qualify for a space in the program, he had to complete four Web-based assignments during the school year with a 93 average or greater.
Students from across the nation attended the three-day event to establish two fictional companies interested in Mars exploration. Members of each company designed a prototype rover and learned about other considerations including budget and communications. Students also received a tour of facilities and briefings by noted NASA employees, including astronauts.
The trip to NASA was the latest of experiences for Frasca, who has reinvented his career several times over the years. He began in accounting, but after many years in that field found that he wanted more challenge. He decided to go back to school to learn computer programming, and while doing that, worked as a dispatcher for an oil company. Upon graduation, he spent 10 years as a computer programmer. After losing his job to downsizing, he decided it was time to go back to school—this time for engineering at CCM.
“I found out that CCM has a great engineering science program that’s transferable to a number of other colleges,” Frasca says. “Coming from a business background, I am fairly good at judging the ability of others. I really have confidence in the faculty’s background and skills.” Frasca currently supports himself by tutoring in computer programming, but hopes to complete a four-year engineering degree followed by a master’s degree.
He is looking forward to new challenges when he enters the field of engineering. “I like working closely with customers, and hope to work on projects where I can help design products that customers will be really happy using.”